O'Mahony looking to Galway for inspiration
Published 22/06/2010 | 05:00
MAYO manager John O'Mahony's injury worries have eased ahead of Saturday's qualifier clash with Longford.
Alan Dillon, Trevor Howley (both hamstring), Chris Barrett (illness) and Pat Harte will all be available for selection for the trip to Pearse Park, but Aidan Kilcoyne remains out, while Tom Cunniffe has been struggling with a groin injury since Mayo's surprise defeat at the hands of Sligo.
O'Mahony's side came in for a raft of criticism in the wake of that loss and in the interim, the Mayo boss -- and TD -- has had to deal with the upheaval inside the Fine Gael party, meaning that he has endured a hectic schedule since their disappointing Connacht championship exit.
"We're like any other team that goes out of the provincial championship. The aftermath of something like that is always difficult. It's a tough time to get everyone back in and refocused on the task ahead, but that's what we have to do," said O'Mahony.
Other than the display of Alan Freeman, who showed remarkable composure on his championship debut at full-forward, there were few positives for Mayo to take from the Sligo defeat, which came on the back of a lifeless display against Cork in the league final.
Both of their starting midfielders finished the game on the bench as Mayo struggled for primary possession, while three of their starting forwards also failed to see out the 70 minutes, and the temptation to make multiple changes may be too great for O'Mahony to resist.
In the aftermath of the Sligo defeat, O'Mahony referenced his successful 2001 back-door campaign with Galway as an example of how a season can be turned on its head. Like Mayo this year, the Tribesmen entered that campaign as reigning Connacht champions only to be turned over by Roscommon in Tuam before going on to hammer Meath in the All-Ireland final.
"It's a similar set of circumstances. We've also lost a provincial title and we have to bounce back from that. I gave due credit to Sligo in the aftermath of the game and that should be repeated because they played really well and deserved their win," he said.
Mayo's record in the qualifiers is poor. When they claimed Connacht titles in 2004 and 2006, they went on to reach All-Ireland finals, but when condemned to the back door, they have managed to win back-to-back matches just once -- in 2002, when they beat Roscommon and Limerick.
Admittedly, they've had difficult draws along the way, such as narrowly losing out to eventual champions Tyrone in 2008, but they have also had their summers cut short by the likes of Westmeath and Fermanagh, meaning Saturday's trip to the midlands is far from straightforward.
"Longford played Kerry there last year and got to within a few points of them. And I know they pushed Dublin hard a few years ago too, so it's a difficult place to go for us, but that's what we've been given, so that's what we'll have to do this weekend," said O'Mahony.