Saturday 20 January 2018

It's good to see Mayo 'acting the blackguard' like other teams, insists former hero Brady

Former Mayo star David Brady
Former Mayo star David Brady
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When Lee Keegan held on to the ball towards the end of last Sunday's clash with Galway, former Mayo star David Brady liked when he saw.

Not because of the act. Brady wouldn't be drawn on whether that sort of behaviour, which was designed to kill the clock and kill off and any slim chance of a Galway comeback, should be condoned. But he was encouraged because it signalled a team that is still looking for ways to better themselves.

It was the kind of thing, Brady believes, Mayo haven't done enough of.

Had they been cynical in last year's drawn All-Ireland semi-final with Kerry in the way they were last weekend, they would have made the final.

"The reality is they had a good talk and needed to get a bit more meaner," said Brady.

"If Mayo did what they did last Sunday - and I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong - in the last ten minutes in Croke Park in the All-Ireland semi-final last year they would have made the final. What happens then is up to anyone.

"But you hold on to as many jerseys as you can, pull in as many men as you can and make it as rough and tumble as you can and don't give the ball away and act the blackguard. It's good to see Mayo acting the blackguard.

"The Donegal boys are on record to say they had a session sitting around on chairs on how to perfect the bad mouthing and the sledging.

"Mayo would have sat around chairs saying, 'How do we become meaner, how do we become more cuter, how do we slow down a game, or build up a game?'

"Again the Kerry boys did it last year when they needed to do it. They ensured the water man got involved. He wasn't hit or hurt but they made sure he was brought into the shemozzle.

"Lee Keegan wasted two-and-a-half minutes the last day not that it was necessarily needed but you know what they'll learn from the mistake from the All-Ireland semi-final - the first game.

"It takes a little blackguardness and that's an extra half per cent (from them) that I saw the last day."

Apart from recording a fifth successive championship win over Galway for the first time since 1906, Mayo's new management got off to a winning start.

Brady sensed a pressure on Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes within the county after the controversial appointment process to find a successor to James Horan.

"There has been too much talk, from some players and in a general Mayo sphere, of James Horan," he said.

"I have the highest regard from James Horan and so does every other Mayo person, but they need to leave that behind them, and especially the players. The players need to forget about it.

"What's in the past is something to learn about. I think Sunday evening, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes were looking in the players' eyes and saying, 'We're there, we're on a journey.'

"There were a lot of question marks, a lot of negativity over could have been, should have been (in the management process).

"I'll put it like this, if that was a defeat on Sunday, the vultures would have been out."

And he suggests the most obvious change since they took over - that has seen Aidan O'Shea switched to the full-forward line, could prove to be a masterstroke as they look to ease the pressure on Cillian O'Connor in the last line of attack.

However, Brady warned that their panel is more shallow than some of the other top teams.

"There was an over-reliance on Cillian O'Connor … For me, he is the best Mayo footballer I have ever seen. I have played with some of the heroes of the past but I see this guy as the ultimate team player and he is in the top two or three players in the country. Aidan O'Shea is a totally different kettle of fish," he continued.

"There's a lot more headaches for the opposition managers than there has been in the past.

"For Mayo now, they are in a lot better position because they have that focus now.

"Last year you couldn't say Aidan O'Shea was going to play full-forward but he is going to play full-forward but he might be midfield for the throw-ins.

"It is going to be an 18-man or 19-man effort for Mayo max, especially when you look at the forwards.

"There is no room for injuries to a key man in the Mayo team."


SFC qualifier dates

The GAA have confirmed the details for the first round of the football qualifiers on the 'B' side of the draw. Tyrone and Limerick have been fixed to meet on Sunday week in Omagh, while the other three games are down for decision a day earlier.

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers

Round 1B (extra-time if necessary)

Saturday, June 27

Armagh v Wicklow, Athletic Grounds, 2.30; Wexford v Down, Wexford Park, 6.30; Louth v Leitrim, Drogheda, 7.0

Sunday, June 28

Tyrone v Limerick, Healy Park, 4.0


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