Mayo confident they can give icon Staunton 'fitting send-off'
Published 15/04/2016 | 02:30
Mayo manager Frank Browne is targeting a glorious September swansong for ace forward Cora Staunton.
Earlier this year, the Carnacon legend committed to a 22nd and almost certainly final season in the county shirt, and she has been in exceptional form throughout the Lidl Ladies NFL campaign as the Westerners claimed seven wins from seven outings.
Browne returned to the Mayo hot-seat last year, with some "unfinished business" to attend to. In 2007, Browne was in charge when Mayo lost the All-Ireland final to Cork, and they haven't contested a Brendan Martin Cup decider since then.
Staunton has four All-Ireland medals but the last of those was achieved in 2003. And Browne has a vision of Staunton bowing out as a five-time winner.
When asked what this Mayo team can achieve, Browne was wary, but said: "We're good enough and I would have ambitions. When I went back last year, I felt that unless we did as well as 2007, or better, it would be a disappointment.
"This year, we want to try and win the League, the Connacht championship and the All-Ireland, to give Cora a fitting send-off.
"It's probably something we're afraid to think about too much but it would be great to see Cora on the Hogan Stand steps on the last Sunday in September. If we don't, we'll put our hands up and accept that we didn't win but that we threw everything at it."
The building blocks are certainly in place for Mayo to launch a genuine challenge - they have cruised through the group stages of the Division 1 campaign.
Another long-serving star, Claire Egan, returned a couple of weeks after Staunton and two soccer internationals, Aileen Gilroy and Sarah Rowe, have committed exclusively to Mayo for the season.
Browne added: "Things are falling into place. We spent a lot of the off-season putting together a strong backroom team and we feel we can support the girls with strength and conditioning, statistical analysis, rehab and prehab.
"A lot of them are in college and doing exams and we're there to support them through that.
"But everybody wants to be on a winning team and having Aileen and Sarah commit is testament to the set-up and quality of players.
"They're fully committed to us and we've seen that over the last two games."
Rowe scored a brace of goals to clinch victory over Monaghan last Sunday and Mayo now possess forward players capable of easing the burden of scoring responsibility that has rested so often on Staunton's shoulders.