AS I sit here in the Hogan Stand less than ten minutes after the final whistle has sounded I must admit I didn’t think I would be talking about a sixteen point defeat.
First and foremost I take my hat off to James Horan and his Mayo team on what was an outstanding team performance. If any team deserves to win an All Ireland it’s Mayo. They’re serious contenders as they proved once again yesterday afternoon.
No team has been able to get near them this year and while Mickey Harte will have Tyrone well prepared for the semi final in three weeks time I think we’re looking at a Mayo Dublin final. They played us off the park and while it was frustrating from a Donegal point of view you can only applaud this Mayo team.
A bit like the Ulster final against Monaghan we didn’t even contest the throw-in and we found ourselves 2-03 to 0-03 down after 15 minutes. That was the exact same score – but in reverse – when the teams met in the All Ireland final last year and they could have scored two more goals before the break such was their dominance.
They would add two goals after the break with Cillian O’Connor completing his hat-trick – his second in as many games – and we haven’t seen that in a while. We spoke about hunger and desire in the week leading up to the game and it was clear to see that it was Mayo who ticked all the right boxes in this regard.
They came out with all guns blazing and they reminded me of Donegal twelve months ago. They’re going to be very, very difficult to beat and they’re serious All-Ireland contenders. Let’s remember that this Donegal team don’t owe us anything. They’ve won back to back Ulster titles and followed that up with an All-Ireland.
Unfortunately though they just weren’t able to go to the well that last time. Very few teams manage to win back to back All Ireland’s and this Donegal team have been great for Gaelic Games in the county. Today you see young lads wearing the Donegal colours with pride and it’s the sport of choice for many of them and that’s thanks to Jim, Rory and the boys.
Michael Murphy, Neil Gallagher and Karl Lacey are all iconic figures in their native county and rightly so. It’s just so disappointing at the way the 2013 season ended. We were blown out of the water after just fifteen minutes. Aidan O’Shea was awesome in the middle of the field; their defence was well on top from the off with Colm McFadden restricted to a last minute goal and while Paddy McGrath stuck manfully to his task the two McGee brothers had no luck against either O’Connor or Alan Freeman.
I suppose the writing has been in the wall for some time. While we performed well against Tyrone first day out we struggled a bit against Down before losing our Ulster crown to Monaghan.
We picked it up a bit against Laois but were unable to live with Mayo yesterday. Put simply – they were the hungrier side and we couldn’t match them. That said, it’s been a great journey and I hope that we’ll have plenty more good days to look forward to in the coming years. Well done lads. You did us all proud. Take a bow followed by a well earned rest and we’ll be back supporting you in 2014.