Injuries are part of the territory of a game of attrition. For their Connacht quarter-final against Galway, Mayo could point to six players who were sidelined and three, possibly four, others who had just recovered from short, in Oisín Mullin’s case after the league final was suspended, to long layoffs. as has Cillian O’Connor since tearing his Achilles heel in last year’s Division 2 semifinals with Clare.
At least it’s believed to have been a rift given how long — a little under 10 months — O’Connor has been out of action since then. A Mayo statement on the matter last June referred to an Achilles tendon injury that required “procedure” that same week. Nothing more specific than that.
For some managers, not just in Gaelic games, injury information has become increasingly vague even as they end the season and consequently will have little impact on the plans of future opponents.
It may well be a GDPR issue, just as the age, size, and weight that were once a staple of program pen images are largely gone.
A player’s suffering and prognosis are apparently their own business, not for the public or to give loyal fans a clearer picture of what they may or may not have to look forward to, as the case may be.
With Mayo, the list was long, if not quite definitive. But an appeal from those missing through injury from last weekend appears to include Paddy Durcan, Rob Hennelly, Jordan Flynn, David McBrien, Fionn McDonagh and Bryan Walsh.
Brendan Harrison sustained a serious knee injury during the league but the diagnosis was not subsequently disclosed, while Tommy Conroy was not, confirming it was a cruciate ligament rupture he sustained earlier this year , when he played for NUIG.
Diarmuid O’Connor, Eoghan McLaughlin and Mullin have made it back, although Mullin stopped in the 39th minute last Sunday with a hamstring injury that looked like he would need any of the six weeks until the first round of qualifying to get ready be .
Add to that Cillian O’Connor, who only had his competitive debut three weeks earlier in the closing stages of the league final, and it was quite a strain for a team playing at such a high level.
It’s a lot to deal with, more than any of their rivals and, in truth, more than any team in recent memory. In any analysis of Mayo and where her season is going now, those lists and the impact they’ve had on prep are the biggest single factor.
Interestingly, manager James Horan pointed to the trips they’ve been involved in so far this season as a potential contributor to attrition.
With MacHale Park unavailable during the league due to the laying of a new surface that left the pitch in pristine condition on Sunday, they had to travel out of county for eight league games, including the final at Croke Park against Kerry.
Three were ‘home games’ played in the province but all in all if you were to use Castlebar as a base their round trip was 1,700 miles. That’s before training sessions and challenge matches are considered.
So you will appreciate the reset opportunity in the next six weeks. Bodies need to heal.
On Sunday it was more important for Galway to win than for Mayo to lose. You didn’t have to spell it. The qualification path is one that some of these Mayo players are used to traveling.
There will only be two rounds this year unless a Division 3 or 4 team advances to a provincial final. In this case there will be at least one preliminary round to reduce the number of qualified teams to eight.
That’s how effectively Mayo and others are two rounds closer to the All-Ireland Quarterfinals than other years. And as close as Sunday morning. This is an aid to any recovery effort, especially when injury is such a problem.
For a man with such a serious injury, Cillian O’Connor’s ability to last around 77 minutes on Sunday was quite an achievement. He hasn’t always been astute in his decisions, but one can only imagine the improvement six weeks will bring to his game.
But it will worry Mayo that Galway were able to keep them at bay for so long on Sunday, too reminiscent of last year’s All-Ireland Final against Tyrone.
Unlike last September, however, Mayo created few scoring chances as a wall of chestnut bodies flooded her center channels – Kevin Walsh certainly allowed himself a smile – in a way that only offered long-range chances from difficult angles, an area that she not always have major underlined in than 12 wides. It was revised in 2016 to 2018.
In contrast, Galway was able to find pockets in front of a Mayo full-back line that didn’t have ubiquitous guards on duty in front to protect them.
Cover was better than the Division 1 League Final when David Clifford routed them, but Paul Conroy was always able to find his spot, ball in hand, without being distracted by a potentially disruptive presence in front of him.
This is a fundamental concern of this team. As much as the six weeks offer a reset, they also offer a reassessment.
Mayo are at their best when a game is hectic and broken and full of energy, like when Galway panicked in the last eight minutes and they scored five points.
But when play is slow and methodical, as Galway sometimes did – five minutes wasted in the second half simply by their players being treated for injuries – Mayo is too easy to read.
They have some of the fastest-breaking defenders in the game, from Durcan to Mullin to McLaughlin and even Lee Keegan, who did his best to break forward on Sunday.
Creating the conditions for them to take advantage doesn’t mean they always have to be at the forefront. Sometimes structure and order is the best medicine. Galway showed that and did it well. Horan’s Mayo will also be a key factor in the Championship this summer, but they don’t always have to play by stereotypes
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/mayo-must-rethink-their-game-plan-for-relaunch-in-qualifiers-41587154.html Mayo needs to reconsider his game plan for the qualifier restart