There’s an interesting interview with Andy Moran in the Mayo News, where the Ballaghaderreen man speaks with Mike Finnerty about the defeat to Sligo and where it leaves us. It’s worth a read, not least because Andy was one of only a few of our players who performed at anywhere near their potential at Markievicz Park the last day but also because Andy has a bit of a track record in providing unguarded insights (remember the one he came out with a few years back about peaking in April?) into what’s going on within the camp.
A few things struck me as strange about this interview. The first was Andy’s admission that complacency was a factor in our defeat to the Yeatsmen, where he says that “we were complacent at times leading up to the game and, after scoring the goal so early, maybe we took our foot off the pedal”. It is, I think, a bit shocking that a team that had just got a major hole-kicking in a national final at Croke Park could be in any way complacent about its next match out, especially when that match was against a county that had a similarly good league run but which, crucially, had managed to maintained its upward trajectory when it got to Croke Park. Then, factor in that the match was away to a well-drilled team with an excellent manager, a team that had come very close to doing Galway at the same venue twelve months previously. What was there to be complacent about?
As regards complacency during the game, that’s just bullshit. We didn’t take our foot off the pedal – Sligo made some tactical switches and our inability to react to these changes allowed them to fight their way back into the game. Complacency on our part had nothing to do with this. An utter lack of tactical nous – both on the pitch (where we kept fucking in high balls to Alan Freeman, despite the fact that he was being double-teamed inside: Andy himself was a major culprit in this respect) and on the sideline (where we did absolutely nothing to counteract Sligo’s changes) – is relevant in this respect but complacency certainly isn’t.
The other rather odd thing that Andy says is that, while he can accept all the brickbats that were hurled in the team’s direction in the aftermath of the Markievicz Park clusterfuck, he felt “a bit let-down by some of the reaction after the Cork game” because “we’d had a good league campaign and a lot of guys, a lot of young guys, had worked very hard during the spring. I felt we got a lot of very negative press after one bad performance”.
Sure, it was one bad performance after a league campaign that had gone well (even if it did include a couple of ropey performances, in particular those against Dublin and Monaghan) but it was a national final, played in Croke Park in the full glare of the media against a county with realistic All-Ireland ambitions. And we didn’t just get beaten either – we got the floor wiped with us, to the extent that the Cork lads were a bit narked in their post-match interviews over the fact that we hadn’t given them a game. If Andy was shocked about the understandable negative public reaction to that horror show, then he really needs to get out a bit more.
Andy also, I see, defends the management team but I’d give him a free pass on that one as you wouldn’t expect him to start bitching about them in public, even if such behaviour is par for the course in Blueshirt circles. In fairness to him, Andy makes no attempt to deflect any of the blame for our shortcomings away from the team – it’s noteworthy that Johnno has, more than once, failed to reciprocate in this respect – and he fully accepts that the players failed to perform at crucial stages against the Magpies.
The interview ends with a plea for Mayo supporters to travel in numbers to Longford on Saturday week and, in this respect, Andy vows that “we’ll do our best to rebuild confidence in Mayo football and if people go to Longford, hopefully they’ll see a team that will work hard and give everything”. That’s all that any reasonable supporter wants to see and if the team shows these traits the next evening at Pearse Park, it should be enough to keep our championship campaign going for a while longer. That’s all, given the hole we’re in right now, we can hope for at the minute.