James Horan was happy with what he saw from his experimental Mayo side after Friday night's 0-17 to 0-13 loss to Galway in the Connacht FBD League semi-final in the surroundings of the Air Dome in Bekan.
The Mayo manager handed out debuts to a number of newcomers as preparations for the 2021 All-Ireland runners-up continue ahead of the start of the Allianz Football League campaign.
"I was happy with a lot of it," Horan told RTÉ Sport.
"We're trying a different set-up with a few things and I thought some of it worked very well.
"We got a bit ragged towards the end when we started chasing things a little bit. But a lot of stuff that we were trying to do over the last five or six sessions was there.
"So it was good. We got seven new guys on I'd say - some of them were excellent - so overall we're very aware that Galway have a lot more work done than us but that's irrelevant to us. We didn't win the game, sure, but there's lots of stuff that I'd be happy with."
Paul Kelly volleys over a point during tonight's FBD Connacht League semi-final in Bekan where Galway defeated Mayo 0-17 to 0-13 https://t.co/2xcnp8bDFY #RTEgaa pic.twitter.com/LCPgNQPXbq— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) January 7, 2022
Horan singled out debutants for praise for their performances, including Sam Callinan and Castlebar Mitchels' Donnacha McHugh.
"I thought they were excellent. I thought they were very good right throughout the game and Sam drove us forward even right at the end," he said.
"Frank (Irwin) did well just back from injury so he's building up as well and Paddy Heneghan came on and Fionnan Duffy up front did well and obviously we had Justin (Healy) and Jack (Mahon). It's a step up even for this competition but overall there was lots to be happy with."
Galway manager Padraic Joyce saw his side book their place in the final against the winner of Saturday's second semi-final between Sligo and Roscommon and was satisfied with the evening's outcome with a busy schedule on the horizon in the league before the Connacht Championship begins with a mouth-watering encounter against Mayo in the preliminary round.
"We have been preparing for that since they came back training on the 8 December. The games are coming but you can't beat games at the same time," he said.
"We've a panel of 39 at the minute so we'll keep using as many lads as we can and get plenty of games. That's the beauty of it. You've a game again next weekend and then a game in the league at the end of the month, which is important for us.
"And you've seven games in nine weeks and even when the league is over, you only have three weeks to prepare for the most important game of the year."