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Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE Mayo footballer Stephen Coen in attendance at the launch of the AIB Future Sparks Festival 2020.
# off-field problems
Mayo players 'would never focus' on Tim O'Leary fall-out
Stephen Coen says Mayo have enough to worry about as they bid to avoid relegation to Division 2.

STEPHEN COEN HAS insisted that the Mayo squad didn’t pay much heed to Tim O’Leary’s high-profile fall-out with the county board last month. 

Mayo GAA broke off relations with the financier after he called for the dismissal of James Horan on Twitter following their heavy defeat to Monaghan.

“To be honest, we would never focus on it,” said Coen. “Even supporters would know that it’s something we’d never focus on. I think if you’re focusing on external stuff like that, it takes your focus away from the game.

“I’m lucky in that I’m based in Dublin. I could walk down the streets for ten days in a row and not a sinner would know me. I don’t know if lads are going through that experience at home but we don’t really focus on it as I said, so it wouldn’t affect us. 

“We’ve enough for doing, we’ve plenty between study, travel and games. All you can do is focus on the controllables and that’s what we’ve been doing. Obviously we haven’t been happy with our performances so far so it’s just about getting that fully right.”

Mayo have enough on-field issues to worry about as they battle to retain their proud record as the longest-serving county in the top tier of the league.

With two games left to play, Horan’s side are two points from safety as they face ties against Galway and Tyrone.

“The long run is a great record to have but what’s important is to be in Division 1,” said Coen.

“I think for any team in Division 1 they want to stay in it. You play against the seven other best teams in the country. It’s definitely the best prep for the championship. Ideally, we would have won five games and we’d have 10 points but we haven’t that.

“So obviously we’re going to do whatever we can to win the next few games and hopefully that will be enough for us.”

Coen is extremely familiar with Galway coach John Divilly, who he worked under with UCD’s Sigerson Cup team. 

Mayo will go head-to-head with the table-toppers at Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

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“They’ve done really well,” Coen said of the Tribesmen. “Probably should have five wins instead of four. Padraic (Joyce) has added something different for them this year. I know John Divilly very well, he’s involved as well.

“I suppose the last couple of years since I played against Galway, they always had good forwards. They’re doing their best to supply them with as much ball as quick as possible. It’s a challenge for any defender throughout the country, not just for us.

“But it’s going to be exciting. They’re going to be attacking, I suppose we’re going to have to counter that and do our best to pin them back the other way. It definitely caters for a ding-dong battle and hopefully an entertaining game, but hopefully one that we’ll win.”

Mayo lost seven straight games in all competitions to Galway before they dumped them out in the qualifiers last summer.

Coen says games between the rivals always have a “bite” no matter what time of the year they’re played.

“Mayo-Galway, really if it’s FBD, National League or championship, it doesn’t matter. Every one of those games you’ve to put down a marker. I suppose it’s just the tradition that’s involved with it, you always want to do well.

“I missed the FBD game at the start of the year, I had Sigerson, but there was supposedly great bite in it too. It was a draw, we probably should have won it, we didn’t.

“But every time you play it’s just trying to put down a marker against Mayo or Galway so it doesn’t really matter what time of year. It’s just the tradition involved in it too.”

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