Mayo “the team to beat” says McCann

By Shaun Casey

MAYO are “the team to beat in the Nickey Rackard” in the eyes of Donegal manager Mickey McCann as he prepares his side to face the Connacht men in round two this weekend.

Donegal overcame Armagh in the opening round while Mayo comfortably saw off Monaghan, but this weekend the Westerners travel to Letterkenny in anticipation of a much tougher test.

“Everyone has maybe been tagging us as favourites,” said McCann after Donegal’s seven-point win over Armagh.

“But Mayo are well up there and they have a good team out this year, and they’ve been playing Christy Ring hurling for the past three or four seasons too.

“They’re maybe playing in the league below us, but you can only count the league so much and they know what it’s all about to play at a good level and it’s definitely going to be the toughest test, I can see Mayo as the team to beat in the Nickey Rackard.”

While Donegal pulled away in the end with a strong finish against the Orchard County, there were still plenty of learnings for McCann and his management team to take. The fact they didn’t hit the net in their 0-22 to 1-12 win along with their wide count of 12 were two items of note.

“There was a bit of a swirling wind but some of them were definitely scorable, and we should have been taking those chances. If you score three of four more of them then we’re comfortable, it’s something we have to work on.

“No goals as well, most of the time you’re going to need a goal or two when you’re playing tough opposition so something like that, the wides and getting more three-pointers is something we need to work on.”

Youngster Liam McKinney was the standout performer in the first round for Donegal as the ful- forward finished with a personal haul of 0-6, with all his scores coming from open play.

“His scoring is great from play and 0-6, he possibly could have had another couple, there will be ones there that he’ll not be happy with,” added McCann.

“He got himself into those scoring positions which is good. If he could just get the scoring ratio up, he could have finished with eight or nine.”

Declan Coulter returned after a long injury layoff to make a second-half appearance against his former county Armagh, and he split the posts with his first touch while he set up a Sean Ward score as well.

“That’s his first competitive game since December, he had a procedure on his knee and he keeps himself in shape, age is nothing really if you look after yourself,” McCann said of the 37-year-old.

“He’s been there and done it and he was looking forward to getting up here against Armagh and he really wanted game time. It’s good to get him back in there, he came on and hit a point early for us so hopefully there’s more minutes in him next week again.”

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