Tuesday 6 December 2016

Mayo won't suffer from 10-week wait - Higgins

Declan Rooney

Published 10/06/2015 | 02:30

Mayo captain Keith Higgins side take on Galway at Pearse Stadium on Sunday
Mayo captain Keith Higgins side take on Galway at Pearse Stadium on Sunday

Mayo skipper Keith Higgins isn't expecting the Connacht champions to be caught cold against Galway - despite 10 weeks without a meaningful inter-county match.

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Their wait for championship action comes to an end on Sunday at Pearse Stadium, but Higgins is not bothered by the fact that opponents Galway have two extra games under their belt.

While seeking not to speak disingenuously, Higgins lays little value on Galway's Gaelic Park work-out and thinks the ten weeks spent together in preparation could serve Mayo just as well.

"From a Galway point of view, they couldn't really take a huge amount from the New York game. That is not being disrespectful to New York but that is the reality of it," said Higgins.

"The Leitrim game is probably that only game that they could look back on, or we could look back on to see how they are setting up. At the same time we have had a lot of time to focus on ourselves because we couldn't really do anything else over the last ten weeks. It is crazy to be quite honest. When you have ten weeks between league and championship you would wonder what the point of it is.

"From a player's point of view, it would be a small bit frustrating, the whole fact of putting your life on hold, you do that anyway."

This summer Mayo have the chance to win five Connacht crowns in a row for the first time since Galway in the 1960s so the appetite for provincial action is strong.

And while Higgins, 30, is not sure what the answer is for an All-Ireland championship that is in need of restructuring, he still lays huge value on the Connacht Championship.

"I think so, I have a few of them at this stage. You go out and you want to win every game you play and your provincial championship is where you are going out and playing your biggest rivals," said Higgins, who has six Connacht titles to his name. "You probably like to have the provincial championship still there even if it is for local bragging rights. What the answer is to refine the championship I don't know but it probably needs tweaking."

Venturing into your neighbours' back yard to play is a massive part of the provincial game, and for 46 years between 1951 and '97 Mayo failed to win a championship game at Tuam Stadium, the spiritual home of Galway football. They have, however, won on their last two trips to Tuam and have since followed it up with wins in their last two visits to Pearse Stadium.

"I actually don't mind the stadium itself, it is just the wind on the day which is worse," said Higgins. "It's a healthy rivalry but I'm not sure (bitter) is the right word to use. It is a rivalry, it is really easy to get yourself up for them games but it is never too dirty or too malicious."

Irish Independent

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