Mayo manager Noel Connelly has hailed the energy and workrate his players displayed on their way to a 2-13 to 0-11 All-Ireland quarter-final win over Donegal at Croke Park.
Goals on either side of half-time from Aidan O’Shea and Lee Keegan swung a western seaboard battle in favour of the Connacht men, who go on to face Dublin in the semi-final.
“It was a good performance, energetic, I thought the whole team worked really, really hard, and maybe Donegal, to be fair to them, with a week to recover from last weekend, it probably didn’t help,” said Connelly.
“I thought we were fresher throughout the field and we finished strong.”
But the Mayo boss feels his team will have to be much more clinical if they are to get the better of a free-scoring Dublin side later this month.
“We wouldn’t be happy with the amount of chances we missed in the second half. We could have probably killed the game off earlier than we did, but overall I thought the performance was good from the lads.
“I think we hit seven balls into the goalkeeper’s hands in the second half, and against Dublin, that won’t be good enough, we know that.
“But it’s good to win a game and come out with a lot of things to work on, and that’s one of them for sure.”
Mayo displayed patience in a strategy aimed at breaking down Donegal’s packed defence, and Connelly admitted that harsh lessons learned against Ulster teams during the National League had helped them get it right.
“We learned a few lessons in the league that, against that kind of a system, you need to be patient on the ball, switch the direction when it needs to be switched, and be patient with coming through, and wait for the openings when they come, and be clinical when they do appear.”
Meanwhile, Donegal manager Rory Gallagher pointed to Mayo’s second goal, just three minutes into the second half, as the killer score.
“It’s very disappointing. We came down and we thought it was going to be nip and tuck, and that’s probably how it was panning out coming up to half-time,” he said.
“Obviously the two goals were big game-changers, probably more so the second one. It was probably a small bit fortunate, but it left us with too much to do, and to be honest, Mayo ran out fairly comfortable.
“I felt Mayo were marginally the better team in the first half, but when the second goal went in, it would appear it was a bridge too far for us.
“We needed a goal to kick us into life, but their second goal was a massive game-changer.”
Donegal had just a week to recover from their Qualifier win over Galway, having been forced into the Qualifiers following an Ulster final defeat to Monaghan.
“It would have been ideal to go the front door, it would have given us the breathing space to get the bodies right.
“But we didn’t put the chances away against Monaghan, and that door was closed for us.”