Former Dublin captain Collie Moran believes that Mayo are genuine Championship contenders and pose a formidable challenge for Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park.
Moran has been very impressed with Mayo’s campaign this year and believes that James Horan’s side are a top class outfit after watching them dispatch reigning champions Donegal in the quarter-finals.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of Sunday’s Championship decider, Moran said: “Mayo are definitely a top-class outfit. In previous years they were struggling to get the scores. But they’ve scored 14-81 on their route to the final this year. Some big wins in Connacht and obviously the big win against Donegal in the quarter final.
“I think the Tyrone match in the semi-final was where we really knew that this Mayo team were genuine Championship contenders. They started poorly and lost Cillian O’Connor, their top scorer, through injury and were behind seven to three after half an hour. But it just shows the mental strength that they have this year, that maybe in previous years they were lacking.
“They were behind by four points and ended up winning by six. It was a very impressive performance against a dogged Tyrone team. They just wore them down. It’s a formidable challenge for Dublin.”
“I think the Tyrone match in the semi-final was where we really knew that this Mayo team were genuine Championship contenders." - Collie Moran
Moran feels that Mayo manager Horan should be given a lot of praise as he has instilled a different mentality in this year’s squad.
Moran explained: “Under James Horan they’ve been a work in progress over the last couple of years and they’ve been steadily improving as they’ve gone along. They got to last year’s All-Ireland final and it was really the two goals at the start that made it very difficult for them to get back.
“They’ve been there or thereabouts. And even if you look at league for the last couple of years, Mayo are always there in the top half of Division 1A. They’re a serious outfit.”
Moran is aware of the threat that Mayo pose from 1-15 in Sunday’s decider but believes that certain players are key to Green and Red success and that Dublin must keep an eye on Alan Freeman and Kevin McLoughlin.
Moran said: “Alan Freeman up front is someone I think could have a big final. Kevin McLoughlin does an enormous amount of work and their midfield has been quite formidable all summer as well. In Dublin the feeling would be that it’s pretty much a 50-50 game. The Dubs will have to play very, very, well to come out on top.
“You look at Mayo against Tyrone and against Donegal, their physicality is huge. In terms of the training and strength and conditioning they’re probably a bit further down the road than some of the Dublin players, who are only 19 or 20.
And Moran believes that a Dublin win would prove to be one of the finest All-Ireland victories in recent times thanks to manager Jim Gavin’s approach to the Championship and the style of play he has adopted.
Moran said: “I think Jim (Gavin) is a pretty positive guy. He has only known success as a Dublin manager. Two All-Irelands with the Under-21s and now in his first year as senior manager he has already won Dublin’s first National League title in a long time.
“He set out his stall earlier in the season, playing attacking football. The wingbacks were given the licence to attack and support the midfielders. He played six natural finishers up front, rather than workhorses on the wings.
“We all wondered if that kind of football be enough to go all the way. For Dublin supporters it’s been great to watch all summer - and if we could go on and win an All-Ireland title playing in that fashion it would certainly be one of Dublin’s best All-Ireland wins ever.”