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Horan praises maturity of his players in handling great expectations

Mayo manager James Horan said that it is a sign of a maturing team that they can deal with the tag of being hot favourites by delivering a performance living up to the billing.

The reigning Connacht champions, now on course for their first provincial three-in-a-row since their last All-Ireland glory days back in the early 1950s, thrived on expectation yesterday and blew Galway away.

"We were confident coming up here," said Horan. "We were favourites coming into Galway's backyard and we knew if we played like we could, we were confident we would win.

"Obviously, the margin of the win is something you don't plan for. You take it when you get it.

"We got a lot of primary possession in the first half when we needed to so that was very good.

"What set it up for us was the turnovers in the first half. Our forwards just absolutely pinned them back and really broke their spirit."

Their glorious day was crowned when Andy Moran made his first appearance since August and fired home Mayo's fourth goal in the dying moments.

"You couldn't have scripted that better with Andy. He'll be chirpy enough about that, I suppose, sticking away a goal," added Horan.

"It was great, you heard the roar when Andy was going on, and I think it lifted everybody in the stadium.

"It worked out very well for us today."

Galway manager Alan Mulholland admitted there was a gulf between the sides and that the Tribesmen would now have a difficult task regrouping for the qualifiers.

"We thought we were going to be competitive. We felt we were in good form and we thought we were going to put one over on Mayo. But what we thought and what transpired are two totally different things and there definitely was a gap between us," he said.

Mulholland also believes that the dismissals of Gareth Bradshaw and Niall Coleman could have been avoided.

"I thought they (red cards) were a little harsh. I think our lads were getting a little frustrated, I think the referee could have been cognisant of that.

"However, Mayo were physically dominant and intimidating us all over the pitch, so it was ironic that we ended up with the two red cards.

"In saying that, I don't think we can be making any excuses really in that regard," the Galway manager added.

Mulholland will now have to try pick up the pieces after this hammering and regroup for the qualifiers at the end of next month.

"The lads will go back to their clubs now," he said. "I think we'll need six weeks to get over this one. That will be our next goal. Galway haven't done well in the qualifiers in the last number of years so this is going to be our goal now, to try win one."

Mayo forward Alan Dillon said there is no danger of them getting carried away with the facile nature of the win.

"It is not an issue at all," said Dillon. "Our lads are well grounded from last September and we want to push on and be as good as we possibly can. While the supporters will enjoy tonight, we will be back in recovery tomorrow.

"I have come to Salthill a few times before and barely got a breath and today was a bit different, and if every championship game is as comfortable as that we will be happy, but there will be tougher tests ahead.

"Roscommon will be very competitive and we have a lot of stuff to work on and we are looking forward to getting some lads back and really pushing forward," added the Ballintubber clubman.

Irish Independent