Costello calls for massive effort from Sligo

Alan Costello is hoping his decision to switch from his native Mayo to playing for Sligo can reap further dividends this summer, as the Yeats County side go in search of their first Connacht SFC final appearance since 2007.

Alan Costello is hoping his decision to switch from his native Mayo to playing for Sligo can reap further dividends this summer, as the Yeats County side go in search of their first Connacht SFC final appearance since 2007.

Sligo face Galway in Sunday afternoon's Connacht semi-final at Pearse Stadium, determined to build on their recent dethroning of last year's champions Mayo.

A Balla native, Costello played in Mayo football teams from Under-16 to senior level in the past, but failed to feature in a Mayo starting line-up at Senior Championship level.

"I was involved with the Mayo seniors in 2004 and 2005. I had played Under-16, minor and Under-21 prior to that," he said.

"I played a couple of National League games in 2004 and 2005, but never played Championship.

"I wasn't involved then after that for whatever reason. I moved to Sligo and transferred from my home club, because I was living and working in Sligo.

"The fact I wasn't involved at inter-county level, and I was going well enough with the club down here that (Sligo manager) Kevin Walsh asked me did I want to get involved?

"That's really the reason I got involved in Sligo, the fact that I was playing club football and living there."

It was in Sligo where Costello found a winning formula as a player and a fledgling manager. During his six-year stint as a student, he won Ulster Bank Sigerson Cup titles in 2004 and 2006, Connacht FBD League honours and enjoyed other colleges successes with IT Sligo.

"I had played Sigerson for six years with the college and we won two Sigerson Cups, an FBD League and a colleges league medal, so I obviously know exactly all of what college football is about.

"I had managed a ladies football team, who had got to an O'Connor Cup final two years previously. Then myself and Darren Kearns, who was also involved, were asked to manage the junior and senior 'B' teams.

"We said that we would have loved to do it, because we knew a lot of the lads in the college anyway.

"We won both All-Ireland Championships this year, so it was a good year all-round for the college."

Costello, playing at centre-forward, overcame his native county at the quarter-final stage of this year's Connacht Championship - scoring two points in a deserved 0-15 to 1-8 win - and says it was an important victory for his adopted side.

"I was delighted, it was a huge win for us as a team and I suppose for myself having been involved with Mayo before this, it was a big game for me," he admitted of the Markievicz Park encounter.

"It was a massive result, the fact that we were behind and we came back against a team that had been so highly rated. It was just a huge occasion and a huge win for us."

Looking forward to this weekend's semi-final trip to Galway, Costello says there is a lot of incentive there for the Yeats men, especially with manager Walsh being a former player with the Tribesmen.

"There will be a lot of hype around that, the same way that there was about me being a Mayo man playing against Mayo.

"Kevin was a good Galway player back in the day, and now he is managing against his native county.

"It's something different, but it is probably something that the media will grasp on to more than Kevin himself or the players."

And Costello says that Galway's struggle to overcome New York on the opening day of the Championship means little coming into Sunday's semi.

"I wouldn't read too much into Galway's game against New York. I know I went over there myself with Mayo in 2004, and it's just basically about going over and getting the job done, as the preparation isn't great and the travelling is tough.

"Galway have some fantastic footballers and they have never been too far away from contesting in the late months in summer.

"They are always there or thereabouts, in the last couple of years it has been back and over between themselves and Mayo for Connacht titles.

"Their league form wasn't great this year, but they were missing a lot of players who are going to be back for our game, so they are going to be favourites against us given their Division 1 league form and their history in the All-Ireland series.

"We are going up there to Pearse Stadium off the back of a good win over Mayo, but this is going to be as tough if not tougher than that game.

"We are probably waiting in the long grass hoping to put in a massive performance against them," he added.

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