Mayo coach Cian O’Neill has revealed the Connacht champions have been geared to perform for Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Down.
Although it involved some presumption, the Kildare native had tailored the team’s preparations to begin peaking from their third game this summer.
“Basically, we break down our season up into phases and it’s on a match-by-match basis,” said the UL lecturer. “We don’t factor in the difficulty or complexity of the opposition.
“The win over Leitrim was facile but we didn’t intend it that way or saw it would go that way. The Sligo game was a close one but we’ve been planning for the third game without knowing how the first two were going to go.
“You take each hurdle as it comes and then plan appropriately but it’s the third one we’ve been concentrating on.”
Having enjoyed success with the Tipperary hurlers in 2010, O’Neill came with a pedigree into a county that has been regularly seen by pundits as being psychologically weak.
“People over-elaborate that connotation about Mayo,” he said.
“The fact is they’ve got to more All-Ireland finals than most counties over the years and in order to do that they’ve had to demonstrate steel and composure.
“Okay, it didn’t work for them on occasions but to say they don’t have steel or choke is narrow-minded. Only one team in the country can win an All-Ireland and that is a very difficult thing to do.’’
Along with their opponents on Sunday, Mayo are generally regarded as a football team.
“That overlooks the dirty spade work Donal Vaughan and Kevin O’Loughlin are prepared to do. Yet in the cynicism rankings, they are pretty low. O’Neill makes it clear Mayo are one team that aren’t given a brief to carry out professional fouls.
“Every team has their own philosophy and every manager brings his own philosophy. We’ve our own philosophy in regard to the style of football we want to play.
“What happens in a game with a team can sometimes be unattractive or unsavoury but it’s not usually pre-planned. I wouldn’t like to think that any team is overly negative unless they are sent out to do it and we certainly don’t do that.”
Since discovering the identity of their opponents last Saturday, O’Neill admitted the management team have not changed their preparations.
“You focus a little bit more on the opposition this week but the emphasis hasn’t changed that much. It’s still about the Mayo team.
“You need to know the strengths and you have to attack what you see are the weaknesses but that certainly hasn’t changed our focus.
” The key is not to over-analyse the opposition.”
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