James Horan 'has built a new Mayo team to match the pace, energy and athleticism of Dublin' - top GAA pundit
Mayo are back in an All-Ireland SFC final for the first time since 2017 following the side's emphatic victory over Tipperary at Croke Park today by 5-20 to 3-13.
James Horan's charges will face Dublin in the decider at Croke Park on Saturday evening, December 19 at 5 p.m. in a repeat of the 2017 final in which only a point separated the sides.
Mayo will approach the encounter as underdogs as Dublin seek to lift the Sam Maguire Cup for a sixth consecutive year.
The build-up to the occasion will be different than ever before - devoid of the hype and the almighty rush for match tickets.
But Mayo's qualification for their 17th All-Ireland final is a significant morale-booster for the county in general following a challenging year in which Covid-19 dominated the agenda.
Lifting the fog, one might add, given the weather conditions today at Croke Park!
Manager James Horan described his side's display against Tipperary as 'patchy' but admitted when his players were good, they were very good.
"We have learned what we are good at and we have learned what we are not so good at.
"However, it's great to be looking forward to an All-Ireland final.
"For us now, it's all about how much we can further develop over the coming 13 days," he added
When being presented with the man-of-the-match award, Cillian O'Connor, who scored 4-9, said there is no reason why it should not be Mayo's year.
"We will prepare well for the final," he stated,
Leading GAA pundit Pat Spillane has supported calls on the GAA to permit the families of the Mayo and Dublin players to attend the final on Saturday week in line with social distancing guidelines.
He is also of the view that Mayo's prospects against Dublin should be taken very seriously.
The Kerry legend made the point that Horan has added the qualities of athleticism, energy and pace to his team since returning to the position - the very qualities which have hallmarked Dublin's recent successes.
"Players like Matthew Ruane and Conor Loftus have made the Mayo midfield far more mobile while Tommy Conroy in attack is a player that will concern Dublin," he stated.
However, he raised some concern over the fact Tipperary created 10 goal chances against Mayo.
Former Mayo Ladies GAA star Cora Staunton, a member of RTÉ Sport match panel, said James Horan knew what he was doing when he decided to return to Mayo and the significant changes are there to be seen by everybody now.
One very significant statistic that will not have escaped the notice of Mayo supporters is that not a single wide was recorded until the 58th minute of today's match, a clear signal of the side's greatly improved scoring return rate.