Kevin McStay has hailed the attitude of his players after Mayo battled back on numerous occasions to force parity at the death against Galway in Castlebar tonight.
McStay’s league baptism as Mayo boss was in danger of ending in narrow defeat to their arch-rivals, only for Ryan O’Donoghue to nail a pressure equaliser from play with the last kick of a seesawing Division 1 contest.
And afterwards the former RTÉ pundit pinpointed attitude and energy as the qualities that most pleased him, especially after the hammer-blows of conceding goals in either half to Matthew Tierney and Seán Kelly.
“These are great challenges for our team,” he said after this 1-11 to 2-8 stalemate. “They get this belt in the face when they think they’re on easy street and they’re knocked back down again and then they get - we see it on the sideline – a really good response.
“We got some very good scores from play; we worked them very well. And the big takeaway for me is we didn’t back off, we didn’t go missing, and we felt we could get a result. If it had gone on, I’d say we were chasing the winner, let me put it that way.”
McStay continued: “We’d a lot of young lads out there today against quite an experienced opposition, and they all stood up to their full height. No one went hiding. Everyone looking for the ball; everyone trying hard to do the right thing.
“We made plenty of mistakes, no question, and we’ve lots of weekends ahead of us to tidy things up. But no doubt we will make mistakes over those weekends as well, so it’s just a continuing process of finding out what’s our best team, where are the areas we need to tidy up.
“We’re pleased with a point. We could have lived with it if we left without one, but I think we deserved one – that’s my sense.”
His opposite number, Pádraic Joyce, was equally pleased with Galway’s character – but still cut a slightly deflated figure at seeing victory snatched from their grasp so late in the game.
“Just frustrated with a few decisions out there. It’s the first league game, I was very proud of the fellas and overall a draw was probably a fair result,” he surmised.
“We were a point up and five minutes injury-time was up and he played a sixth one so look it, again, no complaints but we do feel a bit aggrieved that we didn’t win the game.
“But that’s a good sign of the team, we’re not happy with a draw in Castlebar.”
Joyce expressed concern about Rob Finnerty, who was forced off through injury after scoring a first half point.
“He’s in trouble, his ankle’s in trouble,” the Galway manager revealed. “It was a late tackle on him after kicking a score but nothing we can do about that, it’s just unfortunate but hopefully he’ll be okay.”