Mayo hadn’t appeared in a competitive match since losing the national league final to Cork but in a space of nine weeks they seem to have sharpened their competitive edge, a 22-point winning margin over Leitrim in Sunday’s Connaught semi-final even beyond the wildest dreams of most GAA pundits.
Manager James Horan was quick to keep feet firmly on the ground, explaining that while the win was welcome, it must be viewed against the backdrop of a poor Leitrim side who faded out of sight in the second half.
“We still have work to do,” explained the manager, who was delighted with the workrate of his team and the scramble now for places on the team in the final.
What must be more comforting for Horan as he plots a final meeting with Sligo in four week’s time was the scoring spread - 10 of the starting 15 on target, four of the substitutes also getting in on the scoring act and four superb goals to boot, two from team captain, Andy Moran.
“There was a lot of rustiness out there and we made a lot of mistakes,” he said but also accepting that the team worked hard and it was plain to be seen fellows are fighting for their right to be in the Connaught final team with Mayo keeping up the pressure to the final whistle.
“The guys we brought in did very well, particularly up front, and we still have the two O’Sheas to consider,” he said, a reference to the fact that the Breaffy brothers may still be part of the midfield equation when he sits down to pick the team to go into battle against Sligo.
“At the moment there is good competition for places, particularly at midfield, and that is essential.”
But, with the outcome, it was difficult to put Mayo’s true form into perspective.
“When you are running away with it, it can be easy to come on to a team that is so dominant. But the guys that came on looked very, very sharp, which is very pleasing.
And the long break since the league final?
“We prepared well and I think it showed. Our games next weekend in the club championship will be tough and training will be very competitive.
“They go back to their clubs and we'll get them back from the end of the week so we'll take it from there,” he said.
Letrim were stunned at the gulf in class between division one and division four but they are hardly as bad as this battering would suggest.
They were in the game for the first 20 minutes but from once Alan Freeman hit the first of Mayo’s four goals the seeds of doubt appeared to be sown and from being a point behind they found themselves eight adrift at half-time and it was game over.
George Dugdale, a member of the management team who was on board the famous team that beat Mayo in that Connaught final in 1994 was very much at a loss for words and wondered should a two-tier system be introduced.
"We competed really well in the first half until two or three lapses in concentration yielded overlaps and goals and that killed us," he said. "But that's the difference between division one and division four and it doesn't reflect the huge effort that the lads have put in over the past year.
"It is something the hierarchy is going to have to look at," he admitted. "A decent second-tier championship, played on All-Ireland final day alongside the premier competition, may be something to look at for teams similar to Leitrim because, being realistic, there are only seven or eight teams who have a real chance of winning the All-Ireland.
"The rest have little or no chance but because there's so much time and money invested and players put in so much effort, two games in the height of the summer is little return for all your efforts," he said.
Just how close Mayo can come to the Holy Grail will be a lot clearer but one thing is for sure, this 22-point win won’t cloud their judgement against a Sligo team who wil be gunning for Mayo’s title.
It is a final Mayo wil be facing into with their eyes wide open but they will once more go in s overwhelming favoruites to make it back-to-back tiles.