The excellent Mayo News has loads about Sunday's league final defeat. Johnno says that the squad's focus was already on the Galway game before Sunday but he did admit that he would still have liked to win the title, having previously - in his incarnation as Galway Bainisteoir - failed twice (once to us) at the final hurdle. He thought we should have kicked on to win once we had drawn level. So did I and, I expect, most of the Mayo following in Croker. We've become so used to winning close games that we have, perhaps, become a tad blasé about our ability to eke out results in this way. We should recall that the last time we played Galway at Pearse Stadium, on a scorching day in 2005, we lost what was a very close match by just two points, a match that we should really have won.
Andy Moran was also in regret mode. He pointed (correctly) to Mayo's slow start as a significant factor in the defeat. "We need to sort it out", he says. Correct again. He also bemoans the fact that, having finally caught Donegal in the second half, we didn't push on to win. He highlights the impact Donegal's subs had, with the three winning scores all coming from second half replacements. James Nallen echoes the same sentiments about Mayo's dozy start. Obviously it's an issue of concern (and so it should be) within the squad and is, Nallen admits, something they've been working to rectify. Four weeks should be more than enough time to do this. Jimmy also makes the valid point that, despite Sunday's loss, it has been very positive league campaign. At the outset, I thought we'd struggle to take one of the four Division 1 slots for next year but we ended up almost winning it outright. We've certainly done better in it than we were expected to. But now, as Jimmy says, it's time to forget the league and move onto the championship. And so say all of us. All together now: "sure it was only the league!"
In his weekly column, Kevin McStay makes the very valid point - one I recall making repeatedly at Croker last Sunday, though there were more 'f's in my sentences and the syntax wasn't as eloquent as Kev's - that we don't have enough scoring forwards in the team. An obvious point, you might think, but often the keenest insights are of this kind. Apart from Pat Harte, we don't seem to have anyone who can, with confidence, thump the ball over the bar from 30 yards and more out. As I pointed out on Monday, Mort landed a 20-yarder short the last day and it should be recalled that failing to make the distance with shots from not terribly far out was a repeated trait we had last year - remember the two matches against Laois? We have, on occasion, landed cracking scores of this kind - there are also plenty of examples of these from last year - but I'd agree with Kev that we don't have enough forwards for whom point taking in the 20-40 yard range is second nature. More food for thought over the coming few weeks.
Finally, the Mayo News also reports that there is apparently a challenge match with Clare (another one? Can't we find anyone else to challenge?) this Sunday at Parke, with the throw-in set for 3.30pm. It looks like we'll definitely have enough intelligence on Paidi's lads before we square up to them in September.