Dublin: 8°C Thursday 27 January 2022

'It’s a national title and you can nearly see with the supporters out there as well, everyone is just delighted'

The long-serving Mayo defender savoured Sunday’s victory at Croke Park.

Keith Higgins celebrates after Sunday's league final victory.
Keith Higgins celebrates after Sunday's league final victory.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT MAY NOT have been the first national title Keith Higgins celebrated, the 2006 All-Ireland U21 victory as captain occupies a special place in the career of the Ballyhaunis man, but Sunday’s win over Kerry in Croke Park certainly had a resonance.

He’s well-versed in final days of heartbreak at the stadium, so this league victory was one to toast.

“I suppose it’s nearly hard to describe at the moment, to be honest! But, look, it’s a national title and you can nearly see with the supporters out there as well, everyone is just delighted with the win.

“Especially, we probably played well but probably kept Kerry in the game a lot of the time. You’d probably like to say we can kick on from that.

“But, look, everyone knows there’s a huge difference between playing a league final and playing in a quarter-final, semi-final of the championship.

“So will tell whether it is or not (something to build on). It’s nice to get back to winning ways. We’d be lying if we said we set out to win the league at the start, but at the same time you want to bring in new players and getting silverware at the end of it is definitely a bonus.”

The second-half turnaround that swung the game in Mayo’s direction was facilitated by the input of big players. No more than captain Diarmuid O’Connor as he served up a perfect example of leadership.

“I think you kind of have to look at Diarmuid really,” said Higgins.

“Like, I thought we were probably in control, a lot of it, but we just weren’t getting there, finishing off the chances.

Diarmuid O'Connor scores a goal Diarmuid O'Connor scored Mayo's crucial second goal against Kerry. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“But in fairness to Diarmuid, he stepped up with two big points; got a few turnovers for us; and that really kind of kicked us on at that stage.

“The start of the second half was probably a good platform, but I think Diarmuid – (in) that ten-minute spell – really gave us the kick we needed.”

For Mayo the encouraging aspect of this success when they look ahead is the input of their younger crew.

New names have emerged this spring to bolster their challenge with Matthew Ruane, Ciaran Treacy and James Carr all making key scoring contributions on Sunday while Fionn McDonagh was an important influence prior to that.

“I think everyone kind of gets excited. You’d even be a bit worried about them at training sometimes, if they’re coming at you! But again, you have to look at it on a whole – bar maybe the likes of Diarmuid, Stevie Coen, we probably hadn’t a huge amount coming in the last couple of years.

“So, to get three or four lads like that, who are real contenders to start now, it kind of has to give you a boost. To see them doing so well on such a big stage as well – when we needed them to do well.

“So yeah, definitely, excite is one way of putting it – but it has to give you a boost.”

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel