Friday 15 December 2017

Mayo have 'plenty of room for improvement'

THERE is a theory that demolishing All-Ireland champions by 16 points in a quarter-final is not the cleverest way of planning a blindside run to the Sam Maguire summit. But Mayo, having made this bold statement of intent, don't see it that way.

Besides, according to selector Tom Prendergast, they aren't so good that they can 'control' the level of performance or the margin of victory.

Asked if it might have better suited Mayo's long-term cause to have scraped over Donegal, Prendergast disagreed.

"I don't think we've achieved a level of control over our performance that we can start sandbagging!" he admitted, banishing the notion that Mayo should have held something back or masked their true strength against the holders.

"On any given day, we go out to perform as well as we can. The opposition is a measure of how good our performance is.

"We can only control our own performance ... I know it's all cliched stuff but that's it, our performance, that's what we concentrated on.

"I think we still have plenty to improve on from Donegal," he added. "But we're not worried in terms of the margin of victory – it is what it is."

Nor is Prendergast concerned that this latest tour de force will attract too much attention from their All-Ireland rivals, including semi-final opponents Tyrone. 


"We're happy enough with attention, to be honest. We're here to be as good as we can be. If that means winning games and winning them well, then great," said the Ballintubber club colleague of manager James Horan.

That said, Prendergast is expecting a different type of game this Sunday.

"You don't go to Croke Park, All-Ireland semi-final, expecting the outcome to be similar in terms of numbers or whatever," he reasoned.

"Tyrone are a strong team, they've come through some tough games, some tight games, and they have a way of playing that is difficult to play against undoubtedly.

"They're very well set up. They don't concede huge scores. They concentrate on their tackling ... so we'll be expecting it to be a difficult challenge," added Prendergast.

Prendergast highlighted two key areas focused on by Mayo's management in the wake of last year's All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal – becoming a "more potent attacking team" and seeking improvement in the tackle. "We've worked very hard on our skills, on our skill execution; I think we're a more fluent team this year and that's something that we've worked at, there's a better flow to our play," he explained.

"And we've also worked very hard in terms of our defence," he added, "to the point that we like to think we're getting there with respect to tackling.

"As everybody will know, it's difficult to consistently tackle well in Gaelic football because sometimes there doesn't appear to be consistency in the interpretation of it.

"Like, there is a tackle there – I disagree with people saying that there isn't a clearly defined tackle; there is. But we're working very, very hard to become as good as we can at that aspect of the game."

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