As you can expect (and, indeed, may already have seen for yourself), the Mayo News is full of lots of lovely stuff about Sunday’s lovely win by the minors over Down in the All-Ireland semi-final. There’s Mike Finnerty’s lovely match report, Ed McGreal’s lovely post-match quotes from Ray Dempsey (more on those in a bit), Ed again with some lovely quotes from a few of the players, and again with more of the same lovely post-match reaction stuff (where, incidentally, Aidan Walsh reveals that Maurice Sheridan has been helping him out with his free-kicks – it shows, doesn’t it?), Sean Rice’s lovely analysis and something lovely along the same lines from Mike Finnerty. It’s all, well, bloody lovely it is.
Back to Ray’s quotes, where he spoke about what contributed most to Sunday’s win, focusing on the changes that led to that second-half transformation. He said that after the disappointing opening half, the side had to “fight awful hard to get back to where we wanted to (be)” and that while “the switches worked this time, sometimes they won’t”. But he was fulsome in his praise for his players, saying that:
The lads had a lot to cope with. I think when they got their bearings they really pushed on and showed the manliness and steel that is required to win semi-finals.
Goalkeeping was obviously a hot topic given Michael Schlingermann’s heroics (he was Ray’s MOTM as well) and what he had to say here was interesting too, as it provides further evidence of Ray’s attention to detail (as well as further proof of the embarrassment of top quality goalkeeping talent we currently have within the county):
When you are doing trials and all these things for minors it is very easy to overlook goalkeepers, you can take things for granted. But it paid dividends today. We’ve a sub-goalkeeper there, Conor Campbell, every bit as good as him.
Looking forward, Ray was at pains to point out that victory on September 20th will, if we do manage to achieve it, be hard won:
Armagh are waiting for us. They’re a huge team. If we don’t apply ourselves and put the steps into place in the next few weeks to prepare for an All-Ireland final with the intensity that we brought to the second half, we’re not going to win.
That’s true, of course, and Ray is right in seeking to keep everything in perspective ahead of the big day. But isn’t it great – lovely, even – to be involved in it once again? By the way, lads, how is the ticket hunt going? Only nineteen days to go, you know.