Saturday 20 January 2018

Lack of Connacht competition to hurt Mayo - McHale

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Liam McHale has expressed concern about the ease with which Mayo might win a third successive Connacht title for the first time since 1951.

The former Mayo midfielder believes his county have progressed so far ahead of the rest of the province that it could damage their overall prospects and leave them 'sitting ducks' for a team like Tyrone in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

"You would like to think that Roscommon will be competitive, but if Mayo dominate this game, it could be very easy access to an All-Ireland quarter-final without having played a tough match since the league," he observed. "You get a bad draw in a quarter-final and you meet Tyrone without competitive games behind you and who knows?

"It's not our fault that we're so far ahead of everyone else. Ourselves and Munster are in the same boat. At least Cork and Kerry have each other to compete with.

"We just seem to have gone so far ahead of every else right now. It's not going to help us in the long run and won't help Connacht football either."

The All-Ireland U-21 title and club title, which McHale himself helped St Brigid's to win, both currently rest west of the Shannon, but McHale feels Mayo's dominance is casting a long shadow.

"You would be hoping and waiting for the likes of Galway to come through again, with the two U-21 successes, but it's just not happening at the moment," he said.

McHale believes the greatest advantage Mayo now have over Galway is more physical than anything else.

"Mayo bullied the living daylights out of Galway," he said. "They're an average Division 2 team and we're a top Division 1 team. We would have felt five or six points would have been a correct result, but I don't think what happened did us any good."

The crispness of Mayo's tackling has caught McHale's eye in particular.

"The first defence of the Mayo forwards was very impressive. They didn't give the four young Galway backs time to catch their breath.

"That's the intensity you have to bring."

Mayo have an impressive record against Roscommon in Castlebar, winning the last three meetings by a cumulative 41 points.

Roscommon have to go back to 1986 for their last victory over Mayo in Castlebar, but did win their last Connacht championship game there – the 2010 Connacht final victory over Sligo.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport