Few Mayo supporters have been watching their team closer than Kevin Keane in recent months.
The Westport full-back saw his season come to a premature end back in February when he suffered a torn cruciate ligament in the early stages of the All-Ireland Intermediate club final at Croke Park.
Since then he’s been forced to watch Mayo’s season unfold from the sidelines, and hasn’t missed a championship game yet as his team-mates try to take the scenic route back to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
All going well he’ll be in Limerick tomorrow, cheering Mayo on as they try to beat Cork for a third successive time in the All-Ireland series.
Despite their recent trials and tribulations, he is adamant Cork are not to be written off.
“They won’t be looking beyond Cork because the can’t afford to. Cork can play ball if they’re let.
“In my experience against them, Cork like to play good football, go man-to-man. And against Kerry at times I thought they exposed them when they ran from deep. Mayo need to be on top of that. But we’re well able to beat any team out there when our house is in order.”
Fluidity is the first word that springs to mind for Keane when you ask what Mayo have been missing from their locker this summer.
Defeat to Galway and erratic displays against Derry and Clare in recent All-Ireland qualifiers have left pundits struggling to get a read on Mayo’s state of health.
“Fluidity. There’s been a lack of it so far,” he suggested. “There are spells when we flow and spells where we look disjointed and all the over the shop. I don’t know why that is.
“Moving the ball at pace and going at teams has to be a priority for this Mayo team to play well. Other teams have restricted us so far too; Galway and Derry played a lot of men behind the ball and they frustrated us. After 20 minutes in the Clare game I was more disappointed than anything though because I know we’re better than that,” he continued.
“Clare ran very hard at us, we didn’t cope very well with that, but the lads kept working hard. The leaders in the team, lads like Aidan [O’Shea], Leeroy [Keegan], Boyler [Colm Boyle], Kevin Mc[Loughlin] and Diarmuid and Cillian [O’Connor], they took the game to Clare in the second half. And the two goals killed them off. But the lads are getting some momentum now, a small bit of momentum.
“Getting back into Croke Park is all that matters.”
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