MAYO SUFFERED THEIR second straight league defeat yesterday, going down to a superior Cavan side by two points at Elverys MacHale Park.
It marks the second time this season Mayo have been beaten in Castlebar and they’ve also struggled against Ulster opposition so far in 2017.
Cavan and Monaghan have plundered victories against Stephen Rochford’s men so far in the league campaign, and the Connacht side face northern sides Tyrone and Donegal – the two favourites for the Ulster crown – in their final two games.
Mayo’s hopes of reaching a league final were pretty much put to bed with their latest defeat, and they’re now in real danger of dropping into the second tier.
Manager Stephen Rochford believes they’ve only themselves to blame after leading by 0-8 to 0-4 as they approached half-time.
“The reality is that we put ourselves in a good position in the first half and again we’re being penalised for our own mistakes,” Rochford told Newstalk’s Oisin Langan.
“We have to suck it up and get ourselves ready now for next week.”
Mayo shipped a goal to Geroid McKiernan right before the break and it handed the visitors renewed belief for the second-half.
“If we hadn’t conceded that goal we might have asked different questions of Cavan but they’re the things that come in this division. We have to dust ourselves down and get ready for Omagh.”
Tyrone are up next on the agenda and one aspect Mayo need to work on is their finishing.
They’ve failed to net a goal from play in the entire league campaign, with Cillian O’Connor’s penalty against Roscommon the only time they’ve raised a green flag so far this year.
“We kicked 10 wides and five into the goalie’s hands so we had plenty of opportunities,” added Rochford.
The continued absence of Aidan O’Shea and Jason Doherty hasn’t helped their scoring exploits, but the form of Cillian O’Connor will really worry Rochford.
O’Connor has scored just 0-5 from play in his first five league games of the season, and has gone scoreless from open play in his last two games – against Dublin and Cavan.
It’s been noticeable in the past two games that Mayo’s opponents really focused on not conceding frees inside the scoring zone, especially on the left-side where O’Connor is most proficient.
Left-footers Kevin McLoughlin and Evan Regan chipped in with 0-3 between them from frees in the last two games, but a couple of converted 45s is all O’Connor has contributed since their win over Roscommon on February 25.
Mayo’s attack was stagnant against Cavan, with no running off the shoulder as they struggled to break down the Breffni’s defensive set-up. Andy Moran and Conor O’Shea were the only two forwards to post more than a point in the 70 minutes.
Mayo are increasingly reliant on scores from midfield and the half-back line, with Danny Kirby, Lee Keegan and Tom Parsons scoring 0-7 between them.
It’s still quite early in the year but unless Mayo can rediscover their touch in front of goal against Tyrone and Donegal, they might be following winless Roscommon down the trapdoor.
Source: The42 GAA/SoundCloud
The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!