Tuesday 22 January 2019

Ciarán Whelan on why Mayo are right to breach new rule and go ahead with April training camp

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford

Michéal Ó Scannail

Dublin legend Ciarán Whelan believes Mayo are justified in ignoring the attempts of the GAA to make April a 'club-only' month and expects them to retain their Division One status in the coming weeks.

Stephen Rochford's side have a solitary win over Monaghan to show for their exploits so far in the league.

Speaking on Independent.ie's GAA podcast The Throw-In in association with Allianz, Whelan feels it is way to early to judge Mayo with so little collective training done and a number of their top performers yet to return.

"This time of year it’s always easy to get into the Mayo bashing process, but you have to stand back and think," he said.

"I don’t think they have even had a collective training session together this year, because there’s so many fellas disjointed in terms of where they’re living, so it’s difficult preparations for them. They play seven games in nine weeks and they don't train collectively. I think you have to cut them a little slack in relation to that.

"Their players will creep back over the next couple of weeks and I’d back them to pick up four of the next six points and maybe survive in Division One.

"They don't have a lot of work under their belts but they are getting better each week."

Mayo were beaten by 0-12 to 2-10 by All-Ireland champions Dublin on Saturday evening and Whelan says the scoreline flattered the Westerners.

"The four-point margin was probably a little bit flattering from a Mayo perspective,"he said.

"If Mayo went out with the template that has caused Dublin the most problems, where they really push after them, Dublin would have destroyed them the other night. They’re not at the same level of conditioning Dublin are at. Dublin's level of conditioning is pehenomenal. I'm blown away by it.

"The worrying thing is that they don't seem to have found anybody."

While other teams will get a break in April, Mayo are in need of a month's work to prepare them for the challenge of facing an in-form Galway team that are flying in Division One thanks to a well-executed defensive plan.

They are going on a training camp on April 11-18 to fine-tune their plan for the Tribesmen followed by a three-week block of training. The decision will mean the the forfeit of home advantage in one National League game in 2019.

"The difficulty from a Mayo perspective is, while the likes of Dublin go off and take a bit of downtime in April and May and take five weeks off and recuperate, they’re straight back into championship preparation to be ready for that game in May.

"You have to justify Stephen Rochford's decision to say the clubs can't have the players back.

"As much as that is the wrong thing to do, they need them in April. They have to be ready because this Galway team is building. There’s something different about them. They've added a new dynamic to their defensive structure and they have pace.

"You look at Galway over the past few years, they've failed when they've come to Croke Park. They needed to add that steel to their game. Kevin Walsh had to take them to a new level."

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