Saturday 16 December 2017

Niall Carew: No-one could have stopped Mayo today

Sligo boss Niall Carew congratulates Mayo's joint manager Pat Holmes
Sligo boss Niall Carew congratulates Mayo's joint manager Pat Holmes

Declan Rooney

Sligo manager Niall Carew thinks Mayo could well have the raw material to claim their first All-Ireland in 64 years and he thinks Aidan O'Shea lining out at full-forward could hold the key.

Sligo never had a spell of dominance in the game as the five-in-a-row Connacht champions ran them ragged from the first minute to last.

After the starting 15 devoured Sligo, the six substitutes introduced continued that trend and added another six points between them. It was the perfect Mayo performance in Carew's eyes.

He did draw some solace from the knowledge that Mayo are capable of hammering anyone on their day, but he thinks they deployment of Aidan O'Shea as a target man at the edge of the square could give them an extra edge.

"We just got Mayo on a day. Don't forget Mayo did the same to Donegal a few years ago. When Mayo hit a day like this, no-one can stop them. The problem Mayo have is that they can't hit that day enough," said Carew.

"But they do hit it every year, hit two or three of them. They do give teams big beatings.

"They have a different dimension now with O'Shea in the square and they are using it. They are not giving up on it.

"Then when we drop two or three lads back Mayo have the powerful runners like Keegan and Vaughan and they'll hurt you doing that as well.

"I think for now they have everything to win the All-Ireland, but they always have, only a little bit of luck let them down in recent years.

"But they'll probably come up against a more defensive team the next time especially after putting up that score. You'd probably see O'Shea being crowded out with two or three lads around him and teams breaking at pace then."

In hindsight, Sligo should have expected Mayo to put huge pressure on their kickout strategy and three of those early scores came when the heat was on keeper Aidan Devaney.

Carew admitted he will probably set up more defensively the next time his side faces such an experienced outfit, but it was a real learning experience for his whole squad, he says.

"We have to learn from it. We have to be a little bit more defensive going in against the better teams."

Sligo had shocked Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final, but Carew said yesterday's match was a huge step up in pace. "We struggled with that intensity. We couldn't live with it. We needed the start that they got. The underdog always needs the start. The lads will be disappointed with their workrate and their energy levels were way down. As an underdog, you need to get those scores to get that energy up.

"Mayo outclassed us. There is no point saying they didn't - they did. But they outworked us as well. With the class they have, that's the scoreline you're going to get," he said.

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