Mayo may not be the best Gaelic football team in the country and they certainly aren’t the most successful.
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This current team might not win the All-Ireland they have fought so hard for, and come so close to, since their Connacht championship breakthrough under James Horan in 2011.
What they are though, without any doubt, is the best value in the game and we’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Last season they played nine Senior Football Championship games on their way to losing the All-Ireland final after an enthralling replay against Dublin.
Their All-Ireland semi-final rematch against Kerry next Saturday at Croke Park, the scene of Sunday afternoon’s rollercoaster drawn game, will be their ninth outing this summer, meaning that if they win they will match Meath and Tyrone’s record 10-game All-Ireland SFC runs. Just to note - Meath lost to Down in 1991, Tyrone beat Kerry in 2005.
They ship a lot of criticism, but many of their sharpest detractors are missing the point - this group of players are making the absolute maximum out of what they have and if anything they are overachieving.
To win an All-Ireland would be a remarkable triumph for tireless persistence.
They match counties with more talented natural footballers thanks to a relentless intensity and commitment that sees them ratchet up the pressure and force errors. They play with their eyes out on stalks and throw themselves into every contest like it might be their last.
Timing has also been unkind to them.
They lost the 2012 All-Ireland final to a Donegal team who were on an unstoppable mission under Jim McGuinness and since then they have lost two finals and a semi-final to a Dublin side as good as any the capital has ever produced.
It may be impossible to predict with any certainty what’s going to happen in any of their games, but what we can be confident of is there will be entertainment and there will be talking points.
The entertainment against Kerry in the drawn game came in the form of a contest that swung back and forth, that featured four goals, that contained an equaliser deep into stoppage time and that wasn’t decided until the last kick of the game - a long-range Bryan Sheehan free dropping short.
The talking points? Well, there’s only one place to start and that’s the decision to send Aidan O’Shea to the edge of his own square to mark Kieran Donaghy.
Stephen Rochford is known for making big decisions for the big day - he switched goalkeepers between the drawn and replayed 2016 All-Ireland finals, replacing All-Star-in-waiting David Clarke with Robert Hennelly, and it was a move that flat out didn’t work.
O’Shea’s presence at full-back meant that Kerry rarely used the high ball as an option into their target man, 2006 Footballer of the Year Donaghy, so Mayo can note that down on the credit side of the ledger given the heartache he has caused them in the past.
Instead, though, the Kingdom dinked short balls in front of the 34-year-old and he won most of them. Overall he scored a point, gave the last pass for his side’s first goal and had a hand in their second.
O’Shea seemed reticent to get too close to his man, conscious that he might be turned and leave the path open towards goal. And then there was what Mayo lost in attack without their most destructive runner and strongest ball-winner.
It’ll be something Rochford will have to think long and hard about before repeating in Saturday’s replay.
Current Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan was freed to play at centre-forward in the hope of harnessing his hard-running and releasing him from the need to mark a man.
This meant he was taken up by the Kingdom’s Paul Murphy, as smooth a half-back as there is around at the moment, and for the most part was bottled up. Murphy ended up out-scoring his man, one point to none, which is something Keegan usually specialises in from defence.
That’s not to say that Mayo are the only ones who will be doing some thinking during the week. Kerry will be worried about how easily they were opened up down the middle by runners in black and red jersey.
They coughed up chances against Cork in the Munster final and Galway in the All-Ireland quarters and the fact that they didn’t concede goals was thanks to luck rather than good management. Mayo hit the net twice. Will it require a sweeper to cut this treat off?
They simply couldn’t cope with Andy Moran’s movement across the full-forward line either and between them Moran and Cillian O’Connor recorded 1-08 from play. A repeat will make winning the replay difficult for Kerry.
In 2014 these counties had to journey to Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds for their All-Ireland semi-final replay, a controversial fixture choice that gave us a modern classic that went to extra-time.
Saturday’s game may not live up to it’s big billing, but there’s every chance it will be box office again. Mayo are involved, after all.