Roscommon have become a major stumbling block to his efforts to land a Connaught title and once again Mayo will go into Sunday’s 12 p.m. throw-in uncertain of what lies ahead but knowing they will have to work harder than ever and move up a few notches if they are to wrest the title from the holders in their own back yard.
Roscommon, have had by far the more demanding challenges defeating Leitrim and Galway on route to the final, while Mayo’s only game was a semi-final meeting with Sligo.
The underage structure in Roscommon has also seen them produce a number of quality teams in recent years and this year they would again appear to be well endowed in all the vital areas, notably up front where their forward line has been wracking up some big scores and the Mayo full-back line of David McHale, Seán Morn and Kevin Lynch wil need to be on to; of their game but
Mayo come in under the radar with just one game and very much an iunproven side.
That victory over Sligo raised as many questions it did answers but Duffy says he has good team of players willing to work for each other, while he also believes Sligo were a better team than many gave them credit for.
“You look at the nurseries like St. Attracta’s and Summerhill and the standard they have set this year, then you have some idea just how strong that Sligo team really was.
It was low-scoring game ending 1-6 to 0-6 in Mayo’s favour, the Mayo goal coming from the penalty-spot from team captain Adam Gallagher who partners Brian Mullen from Westport in midfield but the manager points out the number of goal chances Mayo created in that game.
.“We might have sat back in the second half against Sligo. I think the lads know that but we should have that game out of the away in the first half had we taken all the chances we created, particularly the goal opportunities
“I think nerves played a part. It was big game for the lads and they were in front of the home crowd and I think that played a part when the pressure came on and Sligo came at us.
“We went into defensive mode instead of taking the game to Sligo but we will have learned from that,” he said.
As to the suggestion that he may not have assembled the best panel of minors in the county, the Ballintubber man has no misgivings in that regard.
“Look, I’m involved as a teacher and our management team know the clubs and who is playing well.
“As far as I am concerned I have the best panel of players available.
There are a lot of things to be considered when picking a minor panel and dedication, attitude and willingness to work are just some of the attributes and the panel we have ticks all the right boxes as far as I am concerned.”
And the second chance if they lose?
“The cushion of a backdoor second chance is not on the agenda.
From once we beat Sligo our focus was on the Connaught final so we are not even thinking about the second chance which provincial losers are given.”
The team is open to improvement and Duffy believes they can move up another few gears
“Our backs did well in that first half, the half-back line was very impressive. There are some good players all over the field and if we raise it a few more notches, as we know we will have to, then I think we are in with great chance.”
For Mayo the worry has to be the small return on the last day with just thee points from play and the goal coming from the penalty but they did create a lot of chances.
The likes of Shane Hennelly, Seán Regan and Shane Coen are playing some good club football and if they can bring that with them on Sunday Mayo will put it to Roscommon.
Diarmuid O’Connor, another from Ballintuber O’Connor stable, is an extremely talented player and he did a huge amount of work in defence and in midfield against Sligo.
If he can be given more freedom to operate up front the he can be a match-winner but he will be on of those players who will be singeld out for special attention.
Mayo shaped wel up front and if they can get into their stride early and are given some early ball they wil do damage and if they can build any sort of a decent elad I feel they wil be very hard to peg back..
Verdict:: Minors can start the day on a positive note ahead of the main event art 2.p.m.