Dempsey’s minors look for two in a row

BOTH the Mayo senior and minor teams were announced tonight but we’ll defer analysis of the Mayo team for the senior clash with Galway until such a time as Liam Sammon picks the Galway team.

BACK IN THE DAY: Ray Dempsey, then aged 19, pictured with Willie Joe Padden after the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone. None of the players he currently manages was even born then.

BACK IN THE DAY: Ray Dempsey, then aged 19, pictured with Willie Joe Padden after the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone. None of the players he currently manages was even born then.

For now we’ll have a look at Ray Dempsey’s minors who, even at this early stage, are the 3/1 favourites for the All-Ireland. We can’t imagine the Knockmore man will be jumping for joy about that one.

And we do think such a tag is unjustified. And a price of Mayo at 4/11 to beat Roscommon on Sunday is very much unjustified.

Mark my words, Roscommon will take a fair bit of beating. Mayo are in the position of overwhelming favourites simply by virtue of their comfortable win over Galway in the semi-final.

Now I was at that game and anyone who thinks that that was a good Galway team would want to have a look at themselves. They were awful. They stank the place out. Only two of their forwards look of the standard and Mayo, without looking superb, won easily.

The way they responded after half-time, after missing a lot of chances in the first half, was convincing. But question marks remain. Danny Kirby looks good at midfield but last year’s minor Alex Corduff looks slow. We hope he can improve. In defence Mayo looked vulnerable when Galway ran at them while in attack the feeling is that if  Aidan Walsh is kept quiet, Mayo have a lot of work to do.

I do like the look of Cillian O’Connor in the corner. Some of my west Mayo contacts had been raving about the Ballintubber lad who is, if I recall correctly, only in his first year of minor. He has a great football brain and is deadly close to goal.

Hopefully his bit of ingenuinty can make a big difference the next day. I was surprised John Carney didn’t start, after having started played last year. When he came on in Sligo he took a great goal but missed a couple of other chances. Still he’s someone who would make a difference but he appears to have picked up an untimely ankle injury.

From what I hear across the border in Roscommon they are quietly confident about this team. They’re physically strong and in players like Cathal Shine and Daniel Qualter they have a presence around midfield while Niall Kilroy is a top forward.

The Rossies have a serious underage set-up running now – I read somewhere that this is their fourth Connacht final appearance in a row, that is some going. Gary Wynne will love to hear everyone talk up Mayo and write-off his own team and if Mayo think they will have it easy, it’ll be too late to do something about it by the time they realise the Rossie threat is a real one.

But, like John O’Mahony dealing with the tag of favouritism for the senior team, Ray Dempsey is well able to ground lads. The Knockmore man has his critics and certainly he isn’t perfect. But he is a deep thinker on the game and knows exactly what he needs from players.

I think that he will have his team primed for a battle on Sunday and hopefully that is one they will come out on top from. I expect them to do so, but only just.


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