Moran backs Mayo to bounce back
By John Harrington
Andy Moran is confident he and his Mayo team-mates can bounce back from their one-point Connacht SFC semi-final defeat to Roscommon last weekend.
The plan was always to enter the All-Ireland quarter-final series through the front door by winning a Connacht Senior Football Championship.
But even though a route through the qualifiers could throw up all sorts of dangerous opponents, Moran believes Mayo are good enough to beat any team they come up against from here on out.
“Yeah, of course you do," said Moran at SuperValu’s launch of the All-Ireland SFC. “I think you have to think that but every team needs to be taken with respect.
“The qualifiers are funny because you are going to little stadia around the country, if you don’t take it with the utmost respect, you’ll be out of the championship as quick as you’ve been in it so it now just needs to be hard training, focus on your performance, get your team, analyse them and just go out and play.”
The experienced core of this Mayo team are well versed in the art of dusting themselves down after disappointing defeats.
Moran admits it'll be a help to do so again on this occasion because they’ll have had a four-week break between the defeat to Roscommon and their first match in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
"The process is we trained last night and trained really well,” he said. “Thank God we've four weeks. You just have to go away and give each game respect and just try to get yourself to the Super 8s.
"Once you get yourself to the Super 8s, you're back to square one. The championship and the format has gotten a lot of stick over the weeks.
“For us, there's two separate championships. You play the Connacht championship and try your best to win it. Now you're just in the All-Ireland series and we've two more games to get to where we need.
"If you look at it like that I think you'll be fine. But as we showed two years ago, you have to treat every game with respect. We got brought to extra-time by Cork and Derry and we really had to try hard to win those games. We'll have to do the same again and try to work our way back."
Mayo reached the 2017 All-Ireland SFC Final after an epic run the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers and Moran believes that though the back-door route might be a more arduous one, it can also accelerate a team’s development.
“It’s just your system of play really so if you get through stages of games one, two, three weeks in a row you get your system of play, you get your system of attacking play, defensive play and put it into shape and the stuff you’ve been working on in training.
“So we have to work on it over three or four weeks in training but then if you get a run of games you are actually doing it in real live time against teams that don’t know what you are doing so you can actually move the pieces a tiny bit more and use it, not only as a match but as a session so you can kind of activate what you are doing in training."
Moran kicked a point after coming on as a sub for Mayo in last weekend’s defeat to Roscommon and it looks like his role this year will be to make an impact from the bench.
Whether he starts or has to make do with a sub’s jersey, he’s convinced he’s still good enough to make a difference for Mayo in this Championship.
"My job is to just to make it as hard as I can not to be picked, he said. “I've trained really well, haven't missed a training session in months. It's going really well.
"I can only put myself in the shop window. It's up to James to pick me. I'm very happy to be back with the squad and playing. But I'm very realistic, I'm coming 36 in November. I know I can still play football.
“I still think I'm good enough. I wouldn't be back if I didn't. I still think I have a lot to offer in whatever way James wants to use me. I think I've proven that over the league and obviously the last day it didn't go so well, but up until that point it was going really well.”