Mayo marksman wary of Tyrone
Published 24/08/2013 | 07:59
When centre-half-back Donal Vaughan almost casually glided in Mayo's second goal in the 4-17 to 1-10 rout of Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final earlier this month, he lent fresh emphasis to the belief that the Connacht champions can score from anywhere.
And that's a danger of which Tyrone are only too well aware as they prepare to cross swords with James Horan's side.
Vaughan, a combative centre-half-back who was born in Cork, epitomises the spirit and passion of a side that is desperately eager to reclaim the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time since 1951.
But despite the team's vibrant surge into the last work, the Ballinrobe clubman preaches caution as he prepares to face a side that he labels "one of the best".
"We have not come up against a defence as tight and as well-organised as Tyrone's to date," he points out. "Plus they have gained confidence from their recent run of wins and will have absolutely no inhibitions in meeting us. They will be very much up for this game, I have no doubt about that."
Vaughan's assessment of the Red Hands is shared by his colleagues and the squad is particularly mindful of the fact that Mayo fans have endured ongoing heartbreak at Croke Park since the mid-90s as major success has continued to elude this football-mad county.
"It's always my belief that on our day, if we can put up a performance, we can beat anyone in the country," Vaughan explains. "I would have gone in this year thinking, if we can get our performance right, we can take anyone. I think we probably proved that against Donegal."
Much has been written and said about Mayo's frailties and the label 'Croker chokers' is an unwelcome appendage
But Vaughan does not believe that Mayo require what he describes as "external motivation" for Sunday's tie.
"We've a lot of internal motivation...there are a lot of players who've experienced hurt over the last few years, and they don't need to be reading any stuff from outside of the county...to get themselves motivated," states Vaughan.
Certainly manager James Horan is convinced that his side can bring ebullience, vigour and confidence to the table.
As Tyrone manager Mickey Harte puts it: "There is a different psyche to this Mayo side. They play with a certain flair and back this up with confidence."