Mayo deserve more credit for All-Ireland U21 title success; Shelving U21 championship a mistake

Mayo deserve more credit for All-Ireland U21 title success; Shelving U21 championship a mistake

By Peter McNamara

Some people make you laugh when commenting on matches at any level in the GAA.

Certainly, following Cork’s loss to Mayo in the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 FC final you would at least grin at the majority of assessments made on the game.

True to expectation, the westerners generated enormous problems for the Leesiders all over the field in Ennis.

How Cork were so strongly fancied to lift the silverware was boggling.

For those that bothered to watch Michael Solan’s side defeat Dublin would surely have recognised how many boxes Mayo ticked in terms of performance traits?

At very, very best, Cork were marginally more likely to win.

Yet, the perception was Seán Hayes’s unit were much more likely to prevail. Rubbish.

Mayo were superb against Dublin and showed they could build on their momentum when in front in the first-half as well as erode a deficit thereafter.

Solan’s outfit were composed in possession and dogmatic out of it.

Furthermore, Mayo were extremely economical in front of the posts.

If they were even half as economical last Saturday the Connacht champions could have won by a margin in the region of 10 points.

Would people have said Cork were unfortunate to concede soft goals then?

It would have been a moot point.

Mayo put the ball wide 13 times to Cork’s four. Thirteen wides.

Mayo deserve more credit for All-Ireland U21 title success; Shelving U21 championship a mistake

At least five of those were really scoreable opportunities.

So there, given Mayo won by five points, is a strong argument for suggesting they could have beaten Cork by 10 points and still had eight wides.

Therefore, for people to lay the blame at Anthony Casey’s door is to not see the overall landscape of the match and also not give Mayo the credit they deserve.

Casey was at fault for Mayo’s fourth goal because it was a misplaced kick-out.

However, there were a whole host of reasons throughout a massive amount of plays behind Mayo’s other four majors.

Other individuals made errors around the field and Solan’s troops capitalised in some instances.

But in others, Mayo simply created the opportunities.

Yet, has anybody truly appreciated the ingenuity involved in Mayo raising those green flags from an attacking perspective?

Also, Conor Loftus and Liam Irwin both scored 2-2 each in an All-Ireland final which is a significant achievement.

Mayo deserve more credit for All-Ireland U21 title success; Shelving U21 championship a mistake

Really significant actually.

Yet, everybody is rocking on about how poor Cork were defensively?

Talk about blinkered views.

One of the many reasons for highlighting how much of a threat Mayo were pre-game was because of one particular trait picked up on in their match against Dessie Farrell’s team.

Decision-making. Their decision-making was nearly always on the money.

Mayo are a team that play the percentages illustrated by how they developed and engineered their opening goal in the decider.

From dynamo Shairoze Akram right through to Diarmuid O’Connor’s finish the movement, execution of passes and decision-making were all top-class.

Mayo won by five, could have won by 10 but we’ll take three off for a fourth goal that was definitely preventable.

Still, after all that, we are left to assume a seven-point success for the westerners would not have flattered them.

The entertainment value was extremely high once more at the grade too.

What a shame it is that this championship will be shelved.

Mayo deserve more credit for All-Ireland U21 title success; Shelving U21 championship a mistake

Still, months later, I do not see how the introduction of an U20 championship will make as significant a difference that is hoped for in terms of player welfare at young adult level.

Why were the two U21 championships never embraced by the Association and the people within it as much as they should have been, especially given their increased popularity in the last five years or so?

The Congress vote to rid the GAA scene of the U21 championship was an ill-judged shout and one that may be regretted.

Can anybody say with any conviction that an operational U20 championship will truly benefit the players?

If so, I would honestly like to hear such a case to be made for that difference ringing true.

Obviously, we hope it does alleviate the pressure on players expected to compete at far too many grades for what should be acceptable.

Nevertheless, I fear that will not be the case and that brushing aside the U21 championship will have been a pointless exercise.

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