Down senior football manager Paddy Tally was on Thursday’s OTB AM to talk about Saturday’s crucial qualifier match between Mayo and Armagh.
While Mayo won Division 1 of the League earlier this year, they have been on shaky ground since and a loss to an in-form Armagh side is well within the realms of possibility.
“I think funnily enough they’re not as strong as they were last year. I felt that they probably had more options last year with the way they were playing.
“I think Matthew Ruane is a big loss in the middle of the field with the promise he’d shown in the League this year. I just read this morning that Diarmuid O’Connor has broken his wrist and that’s a big blow at this moment in time,” Tally said.
Former Meath footballer Anthony Moyles was on the show last Wednesday and also had major doubts about this Mayo side, saying he felt the older players were too eager to win the game by themselves.
“When you start to get to the end of your days, everything you do has to be something brilliant for your team and yourself essentially.
“You have to get the big block, you have to get the big catch. You forget about being a cog in the wheel and I think there’s too much of that in the Mayo team at the moment.
“I think they’ve come to a place where if you sat them down they’d say ‘no, we can’t win it. We have been in a place over the last number of years where we have been the most prepared, the fittest, the strongest, everything. And we still didn’t get there.’ So why will you think you can get there now?” Moyles said.
Tally also had concerns over the age of the Mayo team, with many of their top players having experienced a number of heartbreaking losses in the All-Ireland.
“The facts are that Mayo aren’t getting any younger. They have a lot of players that they still called upon for that game against Down. James Horan had to go back to Colm Boyle and the likes of Andy Moran - a lot of the older players.
"In terms of youth development, they haven't really been coming up. I’d say that this could be the last roll of the dice for a few of those guys,” Tally commented.
Kieran Donaghy was on the Shot Clock this morning and also foresaw doom for Mayo as he predicted an away win for the Orchard County.
“In my notes, I’ve Armagh by a point but the Mayo people will kill me because I picked Roscommon the last time we were up there as well,” Donaghy laughed.
Mayo have had a bad run of luck in recent times and with captain Diarmuid O’Connor being ruled out due to a wrist injury, they could be without their main man for the rest of the season.
“I don’t know him personally but just knowing him as an athlete out on the pitch, Diarmuid O’Connor will play with a cast on and a few injections [later in the season]. So they could have that goal now they could have that carrot to get their captain to a final. Sometimes those things work, sometimes they don’t.
“But in Castlebar without him, I think the Mayo crowd will be massive and it might just get them over the line. It’ll actually be a belter. I’d like to say it’ll be a draw but it can’t be because it’ll go to extra time,” Donaghy said.
Mayo take on Armagh in MacHale Park in Castlebar at 7pm and the Westerners will be looking to avoid exiting during the qualifiers for a second successive season.
Elsewhere in the qualifiers Kildare take on Tyrone in Newbridge, Westmeath are up against Clare in Mullingar and Laois will play Offaly in Portlaoise.