Conor Mortimer reckons the psychological boost of Mayo claiming their first win over Dublin in seven years would be “huge” but doesn’t expect them to beat the All-Ireland champions on Saturday.
Mayo may sit pretty on the top of Division 1 but Mortimer envisages Dublin will be out to make a statement after defeats to Monaghan and Kerry. Also, Dublin’s remaining first-team players like Stephen Cluxton and Ciarán Kilkenny returned to full training last week.
Jim Gavin has not once experienced a defeat in his 13 league and Championship meetings with Mayo, and Mortimer expects that run to continue this weekend.
“Obviously, we’ve got very close to them a number of times but nobody remembers if you lose by one or 10. We’ve made a good start to the league but Dublin probably need to win this more than we do. It’s important that we do go out and try to win because psychologically at this time of the year it would be huge but I would have doubts because Dublin’s best are back in training and the team want to bounce back.
“There’s not much between the teams but Dublin know how to win games by one or two points. It’s not whether you’re the second or third best team in the country to them, it matters that you’re the best and that’s what they are.
“They’ve managed to bring in a player or two every year, which we haven’t been able to do so far in the Championship. We have done in the league but when results have gone against us and the games become crunch ones, we have reverted to the mainstays.
“At least this year because the start has been good and we’re more or less safe, new lads will be given more time. Until that happens in the Championship though, things won’t change.” Mortimer has watched Brian Reape and Fionn McDonagh make impressions in the opening three rounds — “and if they can stand out for the next four or five weeks, then that bodes well”.
But he does wonder about inertia in the panel when so many of last year’s panel are still involved.
Of the Mayo team that last beat Dublin in 2012, 10 are still involved.
“Obviously, they are the best players in their positions in Mayo so it’s worrying in that sense because it suggest there’s not enough competition to them. A lot of new guys have been trialled and given the chance but haven’t made it to the team come Championship time.
“That’s worrying but you’d hope there will be new faces in the Connacht championship to rival the experienced fellas.”