Noel Connelly: Mayo 'were under no illusions' about Dublin's physicality

Noel Connelly: Mayo 'were under no illusions' about Dublin's physicality

Mayo joint manager Noel Connelly hailed his players’ courage in fighting back from seven points down to force an All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay with the Dubs.

Cillian O’Connor’s late penalty and a stoppage time equaliser from Andy Moran denied Dublin what looked a certain victory, and set up a rematch next Saturday, back at Croke Park.

“We were delighted with the character of the team. Maybe in days gone by, a seven points deficit with 12 minutes to go may have been too much,” said Connelly.

“But I thought the lads showed great determination throughout the field, and pressed on, got the penalty, which gave us a bit of momentum again, and I just thought at the end we were on top and maybe unlucky not to get another chance or two to nail it.

“But it didn’t happen, we look at it as if it’s half-time now, and we’ve got to prepare well again for next Saturday.”

Connelly was not surprised at the physical nature of a game that was punctuated by frees.

“We got the same challenge in Castlebar in March in the league, so we were under no illusions about the tempo that Dublin would bring to the game, and they did that.

“But I thought we worked extremely hard in our defence. We had a lot of wides, and that’s another thing we need to look at and work on during the week.

“We need to make sure the preparation during the week is good and that we recover as best we can, but also looking forward at the same time to another great evening’s football next Saturday evening. It will be another great battle I’m sure.”

Mayo are likely to be without key defender Donal Vaughan for thje replay, after he picked up a shoulder injury.

“Donal Vaughan has an AC joint injury, and at this moment it’s very unlikely that he’ll be available to us next week.”

Dublin boss Jim Gavin believes his players will benefit from a high intensity game, the first such contest they have been involved in this summer.

“For our part, that game will do us the world of good. We haven’t experienced that intensity all season, and it’s four weeks since our last game. I know we will be the better team for it the next day,” he said.

He described a bruising encounter as one of the most physical games he has been involved in since taking over as manager.

“It’s up there. With so much on the line, both teams really threw themselves into it, and it was great to see that physical contact, that we still have that in our game.”

And Gavin preferred to look on the positive side of a rousing final 10 minutes which saw Mayo overturn a seven-point deficit.

“We were delighted to be in that position in the last quarter, but Mayo are one of the top teams in the country, and they came back well.

“Still, when we were a man down, I thought we rallied very hard, showed good composure to create some scoring opportunities, had some frees, didn’t take them, but that’s the nature of the game. We got 1-1 from dead balls, so that’s one area to work on.”

He suggested that Dublin may appeal the red card shown to Diarmuid Connolly in the closing stages.

“He seemed to be held on the ground, and I didn’t see why he was sent off. We’ll follow it up, obviously, straight away.”

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