Patrick Durcan: Fresh enough to hurt, young enough to recover

Life at the sprawling CityWest Hotel goes on. The last trickle of cars bedecked in green and red is pouring towards the exit and a smattering of Manchester United shirts is settling down in front of the box for the early televised Premiership game.
Patrick Durcan: Fresh enough to hurt, young enough to recover

The world is moving on. The question is: can Mayo move with it? Patrick Durcan takes a seat in the breakfast room as he addresses the future.

“Even this year, there was nothing between us again,” he said. “You couldn’t say we didn’t come back from any of the other finals. It’s small margins again. You need to get those things to go for you. Over the 140 minutes, there was very little to say that we wouldn’t be able to compete with anyone else in Ireland.

“I wouldn’t think so, anyway. It’s only my second year, but we know we’re well able to compete at this level. We’re not that far away. I suppose, you get knocked a lot when you fall that bit short. We’ll have to pick ourselves up and go again next year, and no doubt we will.”

Durcan is one of those men whom Mayo folk will lean on for comfort over another bitter winter. In a squad backboned by a wedge of players with so much mileage, a player so lightly-raced is a gift.

Durcan is just 22. Brendan Harrison and Conor O’Shea are just a year older. Diarmuid O’Connor and Conor Loftus aren’t long past a 21st, and 19-year-old Brian Reape is the spearhead of an U21 side that went all the way earlier this year.

And the thing is: this isn’t an ancient Mayo team.

Dublin started more thirtysomethings on Saturday — four to three — and boasted an average age of 27.33, compared to the Connacht side’s 26.5. It is the weight of so many crushing reversals that carries the greatest cause for concern.

Alan Dillon is the squad elder, at 33, and the man judged most likely to call time. Andy Moran, just a year behind, dwelt on the Croke Park pitch with his daughter on Saturday, but the sense is that only injury or omission will end his input.

Both have experienced more than their fair share of heartache in the biggest game of all, but Durcan believes talk of this being the end of the road for them and for the other, younger veterans will be proven wrong come 2017.

“In fairness, after what they’ve done the last couple of years, I don’t think many can doubt them.

“They’ve come back and, look, we were that tad bit short, but they keep coming back.

“I don’t see why it would be any different and why we wouldn’t do it next year.”

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