No need for any panic in Mayo camp, says Barry Moran
Club-tied midfielder reckons Cork mauling 'could be best thing to happen' to depleted Westerners
Barry Moran is on the outside looking in these days.
Castlebar Mitchels' run to Saturday week's AIB All-Ireland club semi-final clash with Crossmaglen means his focus is closer to home right now but on Saturday night, there'll be a natural draw towards MacHale Park.
All-Ireland champions Dublin come to town, buoyed by their dominant display against Kerry. Castlebar Mitchels'And with them come the live TV cameras.
It's not the best timing for Mayo, who are still finding their feet under new management and recovering from their mauling at the hands of Cork last weekend.
The form-lines point to a Dublin win and so does recent history. Apart from Jim Gavin's side winning the All-Ireland semi-final clash last year, they also left Castlebar 12 months ago after handing out a 14-point hammering.
A similar result seems possible, given how off the pace Mayo looked last weekend, but whatever happens, Moran won't be too worried.
"The defeat against Cork. . . they won it by a big margin and rightfully so," said Moran, whose involvement with Mayo this term has been limited to a couple of team meetings.
"I suppose it puts a small bit of pressure on but, at the end of the day, it was the last weekend in January.
"We have the Dubs coming on Saturday and obviously we'll be looking for a big performance and a big kick out of ourselves.
"But it is early days as well. Stephen (Rochford) and Tony (McEntee) and the lads are only in, they're building on that, so I wouldn't really be panicking."
The big midfielder is in no rush for Castlebar's club campaign to end but reckons there'll be no kneejerk reaction to last weekend. The players are, he says, around long enough to know how to adapt and find their form in good time for the Championship.
"From the outside looking in, I wouldn't be too worried with the loss to Cork in the sense as long as you identify you've a lot of work to do and you go and do it, it could be the best thing that happens yet."
Moran also suggested that the county side might be a little behind the rest as they had to appoint a backroom team.
And the new manager's cause isn't helped by the absence of a handful of first-choice players through injury and club duty.
"We were probably a couple of weeks later getting back than everyone else, so there's obviously a bit of catching-up to be done on the pitch regarding fitness and that.
"Then, the late appointment of the lads to the management team put us back as well. So we understand ourselves, the panel that's there, that we're probably a couple of weeks off where we were in previous years.
"But that's something that we know and are aware of. . . and while some people are maybe panicking, we realise that it's early days yet.
"There's a three-week break after the Dublin game, whatever way that goes, and then you'll catch up a lot in three weeks.
"And then you're really into where you've to pick up points and start going from there."
After last weekend's result, Tommy Carr suggested Mayo were not among the All-Ireland contenders.
"And let's call a spade a spade. No more than Kerry, Mayo have had their better days. Mayo are on the way from the summit, on the way down with that team," said the former Dublin manager.
"If you put the gun to my head here now and asked me to pick the teams who could potentially win the All-Ireland, Mayo are not going to come into that bracket at this moment in time."
But Moran is confident that whatever happens in Castlebar, Mayo will be a different proposition come the Championship.
"You don't want to come down and ship a hiding, as Dublin gave us last year," he said. "But, then you have to look at it too, the facts are we are a couple of weeks later getting back to training than we were in previous years. We are down a good few players.
"So, we have a tough challenge this Saturday against the Dubs and whatever happens, happens. I don't think we will be too fazed.
"You saw what happened last March against Dublin and then you saw the two games in August. They are completely different and, as long as people realise that and don't overreact to results, we'll be fine I think."