Monday 20 May 2019

Mayo damage Donegal's rigid machine beyond repair in massacre

Cillian O'Connor, Mayo, right, scores his side's fourth goal past Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan
Cillian O'Connor, Mayo, right, scores his side's fourth goal past Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan

Eugene McGee

The Mayo-Donegal game wasn't a match, it was a massacre. Not since the heady days of Kerry in the '70s when they steamrolled opponents at will have I seen such a clinical destruction of one major county team by another and especially as the victims were holders of the Sam Maguire Cup.

This was a total wipeout for Donegal players and management as they never got a look-in in terms of a contest.

They were slow and ponderous, lacked the killer streak when going for the ball and simply got mesmerised by the fluid movement of the Mayo players as they exchanged the ball at close range with devastating effect.

Mayo scored as many goals as Donegal have conceded in the past three years and two of those were penalties.

So all the rancour stirred up by Donegal management in an attempt to gain a psychological advantage proved a total disaster and even the late, unannounced inclusion of Mark McHugh, who we believed was seriously injured, made no difference.

Mayo did their talking on the field yesterday which is the only language that should be used by teams and their managements. Maybe some lessons have been learned and some other managers might choose to change their ways.

Donegal lost their way very soon after their All-Ireland success so brilliantly forged out last year. They were relegated from Division 1 of the league; who said the league doesn't matter?

And as I mentioned at the time, the first serious signs of trouble came when they struggled to beat Down, followed by their loss to Monaghan.

So the collapse was gradual but terrible in the end.

Mayo were brilliant yesterday, there is no other word for it. But how many times have I and others written phrases like that?

The only confirmation that this form is for real will come if they beat Tyrone and then Dublin or Kerry and bring Sam Maguire to the county for the first time since 1951. Obviously Mayo had heroes all over the place, real ones this time rather than fly-by-night ones as has so often been the case in the past. The immense Aidan O'Shea is typical of the new Mayo football warrior.

So too is full-back Ger Cafferkey who on yesterday's showing must have reminded older fans of the great Paddy Prendergast in his hey-day.

Cillian O'Connor has grown into a deadly striker and free-taker while Andy Moran's absence from last year's final was highlighted by his brilliance on his return.

When we saw Colm McFadden back in his own 21-yard line in the first half we knew that the famous Donegal machine was well and truly broken and beyond repair.

Systems are wonderful things when they work but when faced with superior alternatives they are useless because they cannot adapt to changing circumstances. That was Donegal's downfall.

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