Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea delivered a characteristically forthright critique of his side’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final victory over Tipperary, insisting that the gaining the right result was paramount, while acknowledging that the level of the performance in the 2-13 to 0-14 victory fell some way short of what will be required to trouble Dublin or Kerry in next month’s final.
Mayo have come a cropper at the semi-final stage in each of the last championships, exiting in replays against Kerry in 2014 and Dublin last season.
“Today was just about the result and making sure we progressed to the next stage,” the Breaffy clubman admitted after the final whistle when interviewed on The Sunday Game Live on RTÉ One.
Mayo made a sluggish start, with the Premier County establishing an unexpected 0-06 to 0-03 lead after 25 minutes.
However, Jason Doherty’s goal after 26 minutes shook Mayo form their slumber and acted as the catalyst for a point-scoring spree before the interval, with the pre-match favourites leading by 1-10 to 0-07 at half-time.
“They’ve a good kick-out strategy and maybe it took us a few minutes to get to grips with it, but once we did, I think before half-time we really got to grips with it and started to get scores,” O’Shea said.
“Half-time probably came at the wrong time for us.
“Apart from that I think we did well overall, a bit disappointed in the second half - we let them back in with some soft frees which we’ll have to eradicate going into the final, but overall, happy enough.”
Returning to the critical period before the break, O’Shea added: “We opened up the legs a bit just before half-time, got some good runners, a bit of movement up front and scores started to seem to start coming.
“But second half, we didn’t quite hit the heights as we did in that period. We need to extend that. We’ve no chance of winning the final if we don’t extend that period.
“We know whoever comes through the next round that it’s going to be a hell of a game.
“We’ve played them both in semi-finals over the last couple of years and come out on the wrong side.
“So whoever it is, we need to get ready very quickly. That wasn’t a performance that will win an All-Ireland.”
Mayo star Aidan O'Shea isn't getting carried away by his side's All-Ireland SFC semi-final win over Tipperary. https://t.co/CCPKDgKczo— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) August 21, 2016
The prospect of another All-Ireland final appearance left Andy Moran beaming, particularly after the painful provincial defeat Mayo suffered against Galway in June.
“It’s a great feeling,” Moran conceded.
“After we got beat by Galway in Connacht, if you’d gave us today, we’d have definitely taken it.”
The towering midfielder was quick to pay tribute to a Tipperary team which exploded out of the blocks.
“The intensity of Tipp – it just shows that a Division 3 team can come and play in the first 15, 20 minutes like that. They really shook us.
“We had to fight for every inch we got today and that was a great win for us.”
Mayo’ worrying habit of going off the boil - or being slow to come to it – was again evident, and Moran believes addressing that shortcoming is a priority in the run-up to the final, saying: “We’ve done that quite a lot in the qualifiers; against Kildare, against Westmeath, we’ve had the same patches.
“It’s very important for us that we go away now and work so that it doesn’t take us 15, 18 minutes to get moving.
“For us, it’s going to be very important in the final to do that.”
Mayo’s status as football’s bridesmaids has clearly grated on Moran, who longs for a happy ending to the county’s big day out at Croke Park.
The county have fallen at the final hurdle four times since 2004, with their most recent defeat coming to Dublin in 2013.
“We’ve been in a few, but we’re sick of being consistent to be honest with you,” he added.
“I’d take one now at this stage!
“The next four weeks are going to be the biggest four weeks of our lives.”
Andy Moran reacts to Mayo's All-Ireland SFC semi-final win over Tipperary at Croke Park. https://t.co/vhjxrLk2kQ— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) August 21, 2016