Sunday 25 March 2018

Mayo have loads of room for improvement, insists Higgins

Keith Higgins in action against Diarmuid Connolly
Keith Higgins in action against Diarmuid Connolly
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo's Keith Higgins was only interested in focusing on the positives in the aftermath of Sunday's drawn All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin.

Rather than dwell on Mayo's return of just two points from play in the first 62 minutes or their inability to hit high levels of performance until late in the game, the Mayo captain was instead insisting that his side have plenty of scope to get better ahead of Saturday's renewal back at the big house.

"I don't think we played as well as we could, especially in the first half," he mused.

"And probably the second half as well up to the last ten minutes. Yeah (there is) plenty of room for improvement."

Even then they might have snaffled a win. Their late surge couldn't have been timed much better but it might have been enough to get them over the line had they not been so wasteful when in charge after the restart.

Jason Doherty, Andy Moran and Diarmuid O'Connor all miscued when they should have gotten something out of the attack.

"We were lucky and maybe unlucky at times," Higgins reflected.

"We had plenty of chances, we just didn't take them. We probably could have won the game. We showed a bit of character to come back there in the end. We'll take the draw.

"I think when we got it back to four or five points, we really drove it on a bit, we ran at them.

"Fair play to Boyler (Colm Boyle), he got up there and drew the penalty. We had a bit of momentum there at that stage.

"If we'd taken our chances a bit earlier, we probably could have maybe won the game. Look, it's another day out."

"(Andy Moran) was showing for the ball a bit deeper than the boys, laying it off and creating chances.

"He ha put a lot of work into it, really getting himself into the best possible shape in the last 18 months. He'll be pushing for a starting spot the next day."

Even when they were seven points in arrears, the Mayo captain refused to accept that the season had run its course for his side.

"It's not like you're thinking the game is over," he said..

"We just keep doing what we're doing - driving forward and looking for gaps. We pulled it back to four or five points and we just got the penalty at the right time.

"If you think it's over, you should just throw in the towel."

Higgins agreed that it was the most physical game they had played all year and admitted that some of the exchanges carried an extra edge.

"In a game like that, the tensions are high and the crowd is going," he said. "It's easy to lose the run of yourself at times.

" I don't think it was too nasty, there was a bit of off- the-ball stuff every now and again, but sure any game when the stakes are that high, you're going to have that.

"The pace of that game was up above what we've played so far this year. We expect that against the likes of Dublin in a semi-final so you just have to embrace it."

Irish Independent

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