Keith Higgins appreciates going into an All-Ireland semi-final without injured captain Andy Moran is a test.
However, he is confident Mayo are capable of absorbing the blow as they prepare to face Dublin in four weeks on September 2.
“He’s going to be a big loss but it’s going to be an opportunity for someone else to step up. That’s what happens.
“Andy is going to be there every step of the way driving us on. Someone else has to try and step up to that mark now and try and do him justice on the day.
“We have been trying to build something the last couple of years, and try to build up to a different level and that’s going to be a test to see how we respond to it and a test we are going to have to try and get over. We have to try and get over it.”
Moran agreed with manager James Horan’s assessment that Moran is the heartbeat of the team.
“Andy is a big player for this team and he always will be. Definitely [heartbeat of the team], he’s been there so long, he’s been the leader for the last couple of years and everyone looks up to him. He is so enthusiastic about everything and he drives this team on. He probably is the heartbeat of the team.”
Having won a second game in Croke Park this year, Mayo’s record at GAA HQ continues to improve and now that Kerry are out of the championship their supporters will breathe a little easier.
The team will have no fear of Dublin having beaten them at the same stage six years ago in an epic game that ended 1-16 to 2-12. Higgins was part of that team but he appreciates Mayo will find it difficult to shrug off talk of a Croke Park hoodoo until they win an All-Ireland title.
“There’s always going to be that kind of perception there with the way things went a few years ago in All-Ireland finals.
“That’s always going to be a perception. We just look at it as another game. An All-Ireland semi-final, they are there to be won, simple as that.”
Last Saturday was Mayo’s third game in six weeks and now they have another four weeks until they line out again. Higgins admits he’s frustrated by the unsteady flow of games coming the Connacht champions’ way.
“You just try to get over it and try not to focus on it. In one way it would be a worry, being a bit rusty, but I don’t know — we were kind of just eager for a game.
“It’s our third game in about two months, maybe a bit more. You are mad for a game. There is only so much training you can do.
“You are mad to get out on the pitch and actually get on with it.”
With Barry Moran putting in another impressive midfield performance against Down and Aidan O’Shea back in tow, Mayo’s centre looks solid, something Higgins readily accepts.
“Barry in fairness is the first one to say he’s injury-free and he’s getting a good run of games. It’s shown the way he’s played in the last three games — he’s been very good for us.
“Other years he’s been getting little niggles and not getting the right run at it — I suppose that just shows the player he is. The boys dominated out in the middle in the second-half which makes our job an awful lot easier in there.
“As long as the ball is up the far end, we are happy enough to be looking up at it!”
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