Mayo star Keith Higgins.

Mayo star Keith Higgins.

Higgins: 'There was a lot of hurt'

By Cian O'Connell

Tough questions were posed as Mayo’s character was being examined. Wins, though, over Fermanagh and Kildare are helping cleanse the Galway Connacht SFC semi-final defeat from the system.

Suddenly Mayo are back operating in Croke Park. "There was a lot of hurt, I don't know if you would call it soul searching, but we asked a lot of questions of ourselves, we had to do that, the performance wasn't there against Galway,” Keith Higgins reflects.

“We had to get back to working on the basics and getting back to doing it on the training pitch - start doing it from there. There was the bit of nerves going into the Fermanagh game, but you just have to keep working at it and hope it comes right the next day.”

Higgins was encouraged by how Mayo coped with the Kildare challenge. "I think the performance was up a bit on the Fermanagh game, there were periods where we played very well, started off well and then again before half time in the second half I thought we were fairly comfortable, even though we didn't play anywhere as near as we could.

"We were tested enough in the first game in the Galway one, no I don't think it will be an issue for us, people were saying that we got an easy or lucky draw. At the end of the day you look at the way Westmeath played against Dublin the first day, they gave them plenty and they have learned a lot from last year so, there is no going to be anything easy."

Having won five provincial titles on the spin Mayo had to deal with qualifier games for the first time since 2010.  "I suppose after the way we preformed against Galway there was a bit of pressure on us as well,” Higgins acknowledges.

“We probably weren't 100 per cent sure as to what to expect ourselves, it's the first time we are in the qualifiers for a long time, but we got through it and I don't think we played awful bad in the first half we just made a few costly mistakes and luckily in the second half we came out and got the scores on the board and pushed on a bit.”

Matches are arriving thick and fast so momentum, a key summer ingredient, has been generated. "You'd hope so, it's easy to say that when you're winning games, it's not the way we planned things but it's the only choice we have now.

“It probably wasn't any harm to have a couple games over a couple of weekends just to get a bit of momentum going and playing a bit of football, so hopefully it will stand to us the next day."