Dillon: We just need to stick out our chests and believe

THE sense of relief all around MacHale Park was palpable when referee Rory Hickey blew the final whistle.

Some Mayo players clenched their fists quietly, others celebrated with great gusto.

All of them were aware of the significance of the result. After last season’s trials and tribulations against Sligo and Longford, this local derby was always going to be about the result.

“We were sluggish in the first half and there were harsh words said at half-time,” reflected Mayo’s captain Alan Dillon afterwards.

“A lot of us, myself included, were out of calibration in the first half for a good while. These things can happen though.

“The conditions didn’t help either. The leather was slippery and it was hard to get the basics right. But fair play to all the lads, they all dug deep, worked hard, and we got the right result.

“We were delighted with the second-half performance and I thought we were deserving winners.”

Andy Moran, who was most people’s choice for man of the match, agreed with Dillon’s synopsis.

“It was a strange game,” he remarked. “They were possibly the toughest championship conditions I’ve ever played in. The ground was very hard and the ball was very slippy. It was just flying around the place. But we got it right in the end.”

A lot of the pre-match analysis in Mayo had centred on the leadership, or perceived lack of it, in their ranks. After overturning a half-time deficit of four points, and holding Galway to a solitary score in the second half, both Dillon and Moran were keen to accentuate the positives.

“There’s huge character in this team,” said Dillon. “We are trying to develop leaders in every line, not just myself and Andy. For example, the two O’Sheas came in today and led by example around the middle.

“If we want to progress then we have to have leaders all over the field. Now we have a Connacht final to look forward to so let’s wait and see.”

“We thought we had it in us but we have a bit of a problem with belief here,” added Moran. “We just need to stick out our chests out sometimes and believe in ourselves, and the same goes for Galway. The two teams just need to drive on.

“Everyone has an opinions on us and we just need to believe in ourselves. That’s what we did in the second-half and it worked out for us.”

And it was in that period where Mayo won it to reach their third Connacht final in four years against Roscommon at Hyde Park on July 17.

Nobody is looking forward to that game more than Andy Moran, who lives in Ballaghaderreen, just inside the Roscommon county boundaries.

“Where I come from, I know you get nothing easy from the Rossie boys,” he smiled.

“They fancy themselves, they think they’re a real good team. Donie Shine would be a good mate of mine and he thinks Roscommon are a really good team. So we have to go to the Hyde now and prove ourselves now.”

Alan Dillon added: “The bottom line is that we’ve nothing won. The Rossies will be waiting for us in Hyde Park next month but it’s great to get a shot at a Connacht title.”

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