John Evans: The Mayo-Roscommon rivalry is vicious

Former Roscommon manager John Evans admits he found the county’s rivalry with Mayo “vicious” during his time there, but was astounded by the booing of Andy Moran last Sunday.

Kevin McStay, his management team and players have since distanced themselves from that behaviour and called on supporters to show respect at this Monday’s All-Ireland quarter-final replay.

“I was amazed by the whole lot of it,” said Evans. “I had never seen it, certainly never in the several times we played Mayo in the Hyde (Park) or Castlebar and a few of those were tight games. It’s a new phenomenon. At first, I thought it was tongue-in-cheek but obviously there is something there. The management were straight up about it, to be fair to them.

“There is another element away from the booing. There may be a gap between Roscommon from Galway and Mayo in terms of experience and physique but the rivalry is so keen that they’re almost always going to be competitive and you can have the hot-shot team being taken down by the underdog.

“The rivalry between Roscommon and the other two, I know myself it’s vicious. There’s an extra element when it comes to Roscommon, Galway and Mayo. The booing might have been young lads who have gone overboard but I have never seen it before.”

Evans fancies Roscommon must not be sucked into believing they can take on Mayo physically just because they drew with them. “They’re young, eager and they will learn an awful lot from the last day. They’re going to make mistakes and they made a lot the last day but if they cut some of them out their enthusiasm and their youth can stand to them. No matter what way the game goes, that is the positive.

“They have great pace and the type of football they are best at playing they can make the most of the open pitch and make things very leg-weary for Mayo. If they go anything like toe-to-toe, 15 on 15 with Mayo they will regret it. It’s fast, open football they want to be playing. That’s what they would have been taught by me, McStay and (Liam) McHale.”

The Laune Rangers man wasn’t surprised in the slightest that Donie Smith kicked over the difficult free that ultimately forced the replay. “When I went there first, he was making the senior team because he had the confidence and that extra bit of belief that other lads hadn’t. He was before his time and he’s been unlucky not to be making the team now. He certainly has all the guile you need.”

Still, Evans predicts Mayo to advance to an All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry. “I have been a fan of them but when I say that I don’t mean wearing their colours – I just have massive admiration for their unbelievable endurance and never-say-die attitude. Their resilience is incredible. I don’t like them for the football they play. They’re not playing great football like Dublin or Kerry but, Jesus, how they are able to play the same mundane football and keep coming up with massive results I have to take my hat off to them.”


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