Mayo star Higgins has prepared for every scenario
Mayo defender Keith Higgins can recall a most unusual scenario in the drawn All-Ireland final against Dublin a fortnight ago.
Half an hour had been played, and the only players who had scored were wearing red and green. The only problem was that it included two own goals. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.
“I remember looking up at the scoreboard, they had two goals and no points. I was thinking that is a bit strange alright,” he recalled, almost dazed by the recollection.
“I thought we defended very well at that stage. Obviously you have to break it down and look at the goal chances that they got. They came off our boys, but you have to wonder how they got those chances. They did create the goal chances and they created another one where David (Clarke) had to make a good save from it.”
Although nobody can recall an own goal in an All-Ireland final, let alone two in the first half, Higgins realises that the ball was in the vicinity because Dublin carved Mayo’s defence apart.
He acknowledged: “You have to be critical of yourself in those situations about how they did it. It is kind of strange when they have no points on the board after 30 minutes and five minutes later you go in at half-time five points down.
“It was a strange one, but it was that type of game when anything could have happened.”
Another odd facet from the first clash was the Croke Park pitch being almost unplayable.
The Ballyhaunis man said: “It is a funny kind of surface. When it is dry it is the best in the country, but when it is wet the top of it gets very greasy.
“That isn’t going to change between now and the next day. It could be the exact same conditions the next day, I don’t think anything I say will change what the guys at Croke Park do about the pitch.”
The strength of this Mayo team is how they are able to adjust to their circumstances. Events in the first game couldn’t have thrown them much more outrageous bad fortune, and yet they survived.
Higgins added: “You talk about things on game day, two goals going in like they did the last day or the weather, you just have to try to figure out a way around it and to adapt to it.”