Tuesday 21 November 2017

Croker the acid test for Mayo's stingy defence

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Greatly encouraged by progress over the last two years, Mayo supporters will be hoping that James Horan's men take their miserly ways into Croke Park later on.

With respect to London and Leitrim, Mayo are highly likely to be there as provincial champions in August, coming off their first Connacht three-in-a row since 1950.

Mayo's 0-21 to 0-9 win over Roscommon extended their game time in Connacht without conceding a goal to six hours, 31 minutes. Paul Conroy's strike for Galway in the 29th minute of the 2011 semi-final was the last goal scored against Mayo out west.

Since then, they have kept clean sheets against Roscommon (twice), Leitrim, Sligo and Galway. It's the equivalent of playing from 3.0 to 9.31 without giving away a goal. It may extend to 10.41 in the final!

However, Mayo have conceded seven goals in their last five championship games in Croke Park, while keeping only one clean sheet (v Dublin last year).

Obviously, there's a big step up in class in the All-Ireland series, which presents Mayo with a challenge for which Connacht is leaving them unprepared.

Incidentally, Mayo's recent triumphs over Galway and Roscommon by a combined total of 29 points (4-37 to 0-20) was their largest double triumph over their biggest Connacht rivals in the same season since 1907 when they beat them by a total of 31 points.

Irish Independent

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