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Saturday 10 December 2016

McGrath: Dubs thought they were home and dry

Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath
Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath

It wasn't quite Groundhog Day, as Pete McGrath admits, but there were similarities.

When Mayo put the squeeze on Dublin and made the game messy last Sunday, Jim Gavin's team hadn't an adequate response.

If the result against Fermanagh in the quarter-final was wholly dissimilar, the turn of events of were identical.

"Certainly, in the immediate aftermath of Sunday's game, I was struck by the way that Mayo went at Dublin in the last 15 minutes and how - if you like - Dublin took it on the chin, was very similar to our game," Fermanagh manager McGrath told the Herald.

"But in a different context because were never going to beat them or even catch them because Mayo are a much more experienced team than we are.

"I'm sure Jim Gavin will be kicking himself that the lesson they should have learned against us…..the writing was on the wall a little bit.

"They do tend to take their foot off the gas. And it came back to bite them on Sunday."

Fermanagh, it was noted after their wholly unexpectedly competitive performance against Dublin, were the first team to play with any discernible determination against them in the last 15 minutes of their match.

Human

"I know Dublin are very well-drilled and very thorough and very professional and all the rest in their preparations and so on," McGrath explains.

"But like the rest of us, they're human.

"I mean, just the way the game stood when they went seven ahead and the reaction of the people on Hill 16, there was an aura of inevitability that this was going to play out and Dublin were going to win the game.

"And I think that got into their psyche. And I think Mayo realised they were facing defeat again and had played poorly.

"And they decided to go for it. Once they got the first couple of points, they got that momentum and they got a bit of fluency in their play.

"The belief came back then. And Dublin still believed they were home and dry.

"So you had two contrasting mindsets.

"Mayo believed they could win the game and kept going. And Dublin still believed that the game was already won."

"Football is habit forming," McGrath continues. "And if Dublin had tight games in Championship and had practice in nailing teams down, they would have nailed last Sunday's down.

"But it will bring them on," he concludes.

"If they're in the same situation on Saturday, they'll better able to close it out."

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