Walsh fears Mayo backlash as O'Mahony's men look to silence critics
SLIGO football boss Kevin Walsh has braced his players for a heavy backlash from Mayo at Markievicz Park on Saturday evening.
He fears that the heavy criticism their opponents received after their disappointing performance in the Division 1 league final was just the ammunition manager John O'Mahony needed to get his team psyched up for their Connacht SFC quarter-final.
"The criticism Mayo took about their performance against Cork -- that serious questioning of their character, especially by the media -- has given them every motivation to prove everyone wrong," Walsh said.
"Right up to the league final, outside of Cork, Mayo were being tipped as one of the serious contenders this summer, so there is no way they suddenly became a bad team because of one game," he added.
Sligo's victory in the Division 3 final a month ago was the ideal pre-championship preparation, but that has only increased the pressure on them now.
"After gaining promotion for the second year in a row, you could say that the pressure was off us going into Croke Park and the lads seemed to respond well to that, but this is a very different situation," Walsh said.
He was reported to be taking Sligo on a week's training camp in the immediate aftermath but says this was incorrect. "What I said was misinterpreted," he said. "What we did was give the players a week's break to go back to play with their clubs, but since then we've trained hard and had a few challenge matches."
Sligo are not believed to have any major injury worries but Mayo will definitely be without Aidan Kilcoyne (knee) and have doubts over centre-back Trevor Howley and forward Barry Moran, who both sat out a challenge game against Kildare last week, which they lost by a point.
Saturday's game has a 5.0 throw-in to accommodate live television -- RTE are also televising the Kildare/Louth game at 7.0 -- but Connacht Council secretary John Prenty defended that early throw-in yesterday and predicted a sell-out 18,000 crowd.
"We had a 5.0 throw-in for Mayo v Roscommon last year and don't forsee any problems with it," said Prenty.