Owen Mulligan: Magnificent Mayo are now battle-hardened

Owen Mulligan: Magnificent Mayo are now battle-hardened

Owen Mulligan believes Mayo’s dramatic comeback against Kerry can set them up for an extended run in the Championship this year.

James Horan’s side clinched their first National League title since 1981 with a powerful second half performance against the Kingdom last weekend.

Goals from Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O'Connor, Ciarán Tracey, tipped the balance back in Mayo’s favour after Kerry had gone in four points to the good at the interval.

But three-time All-Ireland winner Mulligan was impressed with the fighting spirit of James Horan’s team across the board.

He said: “In the past, they (Mayo)would have folded like a deck of cards after conceding those two goals, but they got themselves better organised at half time and were much the better side after the break.

“Maybe Mayo have turned the corner. At this stage, they’ve lost games every way possible and perhaps now, they’ve finally become battle-hardened to the setbacks.”

Return of James Horan

Mulligan has seen a major change in the demeanour of returning Mayo boss James Horan.

Horan stepped down from the role in after Mayo’s semi final defeat to Kerry back in 2014. But a more relaxed approach appears to be paying dividends.

“James Horan knows Mayo GAA better than anyone else and he looks to be a man who’s under a lot less pressure now than when he first managed them,” said Mulligan.

“He’s more relaxed on the sideline and that reaches out to the players on the field.

"Mayo got a taste of what it’s like to kill off a top-four team in Croke Park – when it mattered –  on Sunday. They had an opportunity to really hurt Kerry late on. However, when there’s silverware on the line it’s easy to see why they concentrated on game management – even if it did nearly cost them at the end.

"Now that they’ve landed a national title, I see no reason why Mayo can’t push on and destroy a big team in the final quarter of games.”

Owen Mulligan is a Paddy Power GAA Ambassador and columnist with Paddy Power News (news.paddypower.com)