Tompkins questions Mayo’s ‘stomach’ for big occasion

Two-time All-Ireland winning Cork footballer Larry Tompkins has launched a withering attack on the Mayo players, claiming James Horan’s troops "need to grow up" if they are to bridge the county’s 63-year wait for Sam Maguire glory.

Tompkins questions Mayo’s ‘stomach’ for big occasion

Tensions between the two counties boiled over in the build-up to last month’s quarter-final with the Cork management hitting out at the “tactical fouling” of the Mayo forwards. Horan blasted the comments of Brian Cuthbert and coach Ronan McCarthy as “disgraceful” and “a new low”.

Stoking the embers of that flame, Tompkins believes Mayo “lack the stomach” to reach the promised land on September’s third Sunday.

“I wouldn’t be turning around blaming James Horan for the last two final defeats,” notes Tompkins, who also tasted All-Ireland final heartache as a manager in 1999.

“You have to be able to process the hype and the suction of the final. A player must be able to keep total concentration. That is where Mayo are falling down. They would want to grow up a small bit. They would want to stop putting the heat on themselves when it comes to an All-Ireland final. They need to get out there and play. The players, for some reason, lack the stomach to get the best out of themselves on All-Ireland final day. They have to rectify that themselves.”

The westerners square off against Kerry on Sunday bidding to reach a third consecutive All-Ireland final. The difference between the pair, according to the former All-Ireland winning captain, is the belief coursing through the veins of every Kerryplayer they can deliver in Croke Park.

“Kerry believe in themselves and they believe they can beat any team. The Kerry players are not afraid to go into Croke Park and perform. That is the hallmark of a good team.

“The All-Ireland final just takes too much out of Mayo. All-Ireland final day is different to any other day. There is no comparison to the quarter-final or semi-final. The spotlight is on you for the three or four weeks leading into the final. Some players can’t deal with the spotlight.

“Take Alan Dillon. He has played in four All-Ireland finals, lost all four and taken off in two of them. In the final they just can’t seem to perform.

“Cillian O’Connor, Donal Vaughan, the O’Shea brothers and Alan Dillon must step up to the mark when the need is greatest. They haven’t done that yet. Lots of players don’t get to an All-Ireland, let alone get the chance to redeem themselves with a second All-Ireland final opportunity. In Alan Dillon’s case, he has played in four. They have had their chances. Whether they get the chance again this year, I don’t know. The big players in Mayo need to show more leadership.

“Players to have to stand up to their performance. Leadership must come from the players on the field. A manager’s role can be over-emphasised in the winning and losing of a game. When I was playing and if we lost I wouldn’t be blaming Billy Morgan. I don’t go along with the saying that manager’s win and lose games. Players must have the will to win and that is developed through commitment and training.”

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