Mayo’s often agonising and frequently captivating 70-year quest to reach the All-Ireland football summit again can end in glory this weekend, according to Roscommon resident and former Mayo star, Kevin McStay.
McStay, who managed Roscommon to a memorable Connacht title win in 2017, believes his native county can end that 70-year wait to be reacquainted with the Sam Maguire Cup. James Horan’s men face Tyrone in the 2021 All-Ireland Senior Football Final at Croke Park this Saturday (5 pm).
In his Irish Times column on Tuesday, McStay asserts that Tyrone and Mayo are very similar.
“Their (both teams’) athletic profile is impressive. Both teams move very rapidly and randomly around the pitch until they reach the attacking half of the field when some patterns emerge”.
While Mayo “have an edge in pure size”, McStay says Tyrone are more comfortable or polished in the fine skills of the game…“such as passing, possession, evasion, drawing an opponent and dishing a good ball”.
The Sunday Game pundit says Mayo have yet to play for a full 70 minutes – and that nothing less than a 70-minute return can be acceptable on Saturday.
Summing up what he expects to be a close final, McStay wrote: “I believe Mayo will win this final. There is not that much to separate the teams in terms of attitude and ability. Mayo have been forewarned by Kerry in that they were given a demonstration of what not to do. But Kerry also illustrated that you can create a lot of chances against Tyrone – goals and points”.
He concluded with a considered prediction: “I do believe that when the championship ends this week, Mayo will be the champions of Ireland for the first time in 70 years; that this team will bring an end to the grand obsession”.