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Mayo must combine talent with work rate to reach top level -- Dillon

MAYO'S footballers are every bit as good as players from other counties but sometimes their work rate has let them down, according to county star Alan Dillon.

Speaking in the wake of Sunday's Allianz NFL Division 1 semi-final win over Kerry, the Ballintubber man believes Mayo have realised that application is as important as talent if the county are to compete with the very best teams in the country.

"Lads have started to understand what it takes to reach the level that the likes of the Tyrone, Cork, Kerry and Dublin (are playing at)," he said.

"We have to keep emphasising that if the work-rate isn't there, we don't have a chance. But if we can match them for work-rate, I think we've equally good footballers in Mayo."

Sunday was Mayo's first win over Kerry in Croke Park since the 1996 All-Ireland semi-final and marked a significant turnaround in their league fortunes.

They lost three games on the bounce, including a seven-point defeat at the hands of 14-man Donegal, before turning in a trio of impressive performances, hammering All-Ireland champions Dublin before recording a draw and a win against Kerry on consecutive weekends.

disappointed

"Listen, we were very disappointed leaving Ballyshannon (after the Donegal game) and all our supporters and (the media) were shaking their heads saying 'what went wrong?' But we regrouped, we trained hard the last couple of weeks and I suppose the Dublin and Kerry performances have been positive," added Dillon.

Mayo are on a six-day training camp in Portugal until Saturday and they will return to Croke Park for their third league final since 2007 on Sunday week.

Mayo last reached the league decider in 2010 when they faced Cork -- as they will again this season -- before going on to record one of their most miserable championship seasons with defeats to Sligo and Longford that ended John O'Mahony's reign.

"The feeling was that not many would travel up (to Croke Park) from Mayo because expectation was very, very low," said Dillon.

"We know ourselves how we've been performing the last couple of weeks. We've been on an upward curve and hopefully we can improve again in two weeks' time against Cork, but it's going to be very difficult.

"Coming after a performance like that it's difficult to raise it again in order to win it. But we've lost our last two league final visits to Croke Park so we'll be looking to bring home the league title."

Irish Independent