Mayo To Sail By Rocky Rebels
Mayo v Cork
And it’s here again…Mayo are Croker bound.
As their fans whip themselves up into a frenzy that progresses to them seeing no other result other than hoisting Sam aloft, the rest of us look through our fingers, waiting for the inevitable.
As a Sligoman, Mayo has always been the team we cheered against. It was like cheering against England when we weren’t at major soccer competitions (and let’s be honest…that was most of the time).
But for whatever reason…mellowing in old age or the Queen’s visit…cheering against England has lately progressed to an apathy, almost a sympathy, at their Finals’ humiliation.
I can’t find any connection with Lizzie’s trip, but, strangely, a similar lack of feeling has descended in recent when Mayo head to Croker in September. So much so that I almost hoped they’d win last year. Maybe that was ‘cos I’d hate to see Dublin win..perhaps it’s a widening begrudgery that is at the root of all this.
But I digress…will Cork put Mayo out of their misery early enough in the summer? Doubtful.
Cork’s first half of their semi-final with Dublin was cover model stuff…sleek, racy and good to look at. The second half was the same model, but without the make-up, lighting and airbrushing.
Since then, Cork have fallen from ‘A’-listers to guests with Brendan O’Connor. Just getting by Tipp, trounced by Kerry, and unconvincing against Sligo, Cork need to find form quick.
Mayo had a handy outing in Gaelic Park, before relying on Andy Moran to bale them out in the Hyde. The dismissal of Galway was impressive though and worth more than the seven points that separated them at the end. Word that they were still at heavy training up to that game doesn’t augur well for Cork.
While the 0-21 to 1-11 scoreline over Sligo might read okay, the reality of that game was far different. Cork struggled to put away a side operating with an injured full-forward line and created only one gilt-edged goal chance.
Aside from Paul Kerrigan and Colm O’Neill, Cork were very poor. Indeed, had those two been in black & white, Sligo, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, would have likely won. Mayo will have players better equipped to deal with the threats posed by these two, and this means that Brian Hurley is going to have to come out of his shell.
Despite the Hoganstand brilliantly naming Sligo’s Mayo midfielder at full-back on their team of the week (he replaced injured full back Jonny Martyn but operated out of half-forward line/midfield), it was Ross Donovan who kept Hurley quiet.
Mayo can do the same.
Mayo won’t be complacent but they’ll be confident. They’ve met better executed defensive systems than the one Cork will put up.
The euphoria in the county won’t have spread like Ebola just yet. Cillian O’Connor is their leading light, no doubt, but Kevin McLoughlin seems to have rediscovered the form that abandoned him last year.
If they’re going to make 2014 the year, then Jason Doherty or Alan Freeman, or both, need to chip in. Freeman seems out of favour, but he has the ability to deliver.
Lee Keegan seems back to his marauding best, though Donal Vaughan seems short on that confidence he usually exudes.
At midfield, Mayo have a number of top class options. Cuthbert will surely opt for Fintan Goold here after his cameo in Tullamore, but that was with a point to prove against players lacking in the experience of the Mayo men.
Mayo should have too much for a Cork side that look short on a quality Corkmen were supposedly born with…confidence.
Mayo can win this with four or five to spare, so the 4/5 about Mayo -2 looks the bet for this weekend. So I’ll cheer that on…it’s not September yet.
Mayo -2 @ 4/5
Mayo @ 13/2 ew for All-Ireland (1/3 odds 1 & 2)