Mayo manager James Horan believes his players are benefitting from the empty stadiums of the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
The Westerners have a long history of crumbling under pressure, making 11 unsuccessful All-Ireland final appearances (including two replays), since last lifting the Sam Maguire Cup.
While Mayo always bring a vocal, passionate crowd along with them wherever they go in Ireland, Horan believes the lack of supporters may be helping his side in the current campaign.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 1, 2020
“I think that communication is there and even that sometimes, when players are talking to each other it’s sometimes a trigger to reset and get fellas back in the zone or whatever they want, there is definitely a benefit there and I think that’s important.
“There probably isn’t as much emotion swirling around the place, which can sometimes… not that you get caught up in it but crazy stuff happens when there are so many people around the place and people around dressing rooms and all that kind of stuff.
“And sometimes that can add to the anxiety a little bit. So I think it’s a more consistent performance area, if you want to put it that way, when there aren’t crowds.
“We’re trying to make the most of what we have so at the moment we are happy,” Horan told the Irish Examiner.
Aidan O’Shea needs more protection from refs
Mayo were pushed all the way by Galway in the Connacht football final, winning by a single point at Pearse Stadium in a physical encounter.
While Horan’s men don’t shy away from physical football, the Mayo boss felt that captain Aidan O’Shea deserves better protection from referees.
His temperament and discipline is unbelievable. Go back to the Galway game, some of the physical stuff he got there, in my opinion he should have got a lot more frees.
“It’s sort of nearly… because it’s always been the way it’s nearly accepted at this stage. But there definitely is a discrepancy, and maybe it’s human nature.
“But if there’s a small guy that’s being tackled by a big guy and the small guy falls to the ground, he’s more than likely to get a free than if there’s a small guy tackling a big guy and fouling him. It just seems that way for sure.
“I don’t have any of the science on that but human nature will sort of look at it that way. Ah, I think that from Aidan’s point of view, just the discipline and temperament that he shows is phenomenal,” Horan said.
Mayo take on Tipperary in the second All-Ireland football semi-final of the weekend this Sunday and will hope to set up their sixth final appearance in nine years.