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Sunday 4 December 2016

Keith Higgins: 'I don't think it was too nasty, there was a bit of off the ball stuff every now and again'

Kevin McManamon, Dublin, in action against Keith Higgins, Mayo.
Kevin McManamon, Dublin, in action against Keith Higgins, Mayo.

TWO greatly different dressing-rooms in Croke Park last Sunday, you imagine.

Dublin's introspection today will focus on how they contrived to an almost fatal collapse, having seemingly done most of the hard part.

Not the type of ailment conducive to a quick fix.

Mayo, meanwhile, have the wholly less intrusive reflections of a game in which they maintained near parity whilst playing beneath themselves yet almost steam-rolled the Dubs at the frenetic finish.

"I think when we got it back to four or five points, we really drove it on a bit, we probably ran at them," reflected their captain, Keith Higgins afterwards.

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

lucky

"If we'd taken our chance a bit earlier, we probably could have maybe won the game.

"Look, it's another day out. We were lucky and maybe unlucky at times.

"I thought we'd plenty chances, we just didn't take them. We probably could have won the game as well.

"We showed a bit of character to come back there in the end.

"We'll take the draw."

Thoughts at half-time? The point at which Dublin had used that penalty usefully as a buffer between themselves and Mayo.

"There was no panic," Higgins insists.

"We said the exact same thing, we said we hadn't really played too well, there was only a score in it and we were just looking ahead to the second-half and hoping we could pick things up.

"Obviously it didn't happen until the last ten minutes but we got there anyway."

Or the 64th minute mark? That moment when Dublin hinted they might put the type of score on Mayo that could have long term damage, beyond the obvious end to their season.

Says Higgins: "It's not like you're thinking the game is over, we just keep doing what we're doing.

"We just keep 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. It's hard to say exactly what the mindset is like.

"If you think it's over, you should just throw in the towel. The pace of that game was probably up above what we've played so far this year.

embrace

"We expect that against the likes of Dublin in a semi-final so you just have to embrace it I suppose."

Equally, Mayo embraced the crushing physicality of the day and if much of the post-match surrounded the flashpoints, Higgins felt that 'nasty' was too strong a word to describe it.

"I suppose a game like that, the tensions are high and the crowd is going, 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 but sure any game like that and the stakes that high, you're going to have that.

"I don't think we played as well as we could, especially in the first-half," Higgins concludes. "Probably the second-half as well, probably up to the last ten minutes. Plenty of room for improvement."

mayo

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