Another year, and another heartbreak for Mayo. For the first half of yesterday's semi-final against Dublin it looked like they could pull off a shock, but it wasn't long before they were brought back down to earth.
When the final whistle went it felt as though this was the end of this Mayo team. We have thought before of course, but something just feels different this time. Having been so close the Dubs over the years, the gap has now widened significantly.
The miles on the clock have finally caught up with them, both in terms of their output this year and in seasons gone by. Between the qualifiers, Super 8s, and the semi-final Mayo played seven games in eight weeks.
Speaking after yesterday's loss, James Horan said that while he was not using it as an excuse, the GAA needs to take a look at what they are asking of amateur player (h/t RTÉ).
If you think about the journey we've been on this year and apply any common sense to it, the turnaround that they're asking amateur players to do is crazy.
I didn't really mention it all year, I'm not at all in any way using it as an excuse, but, you know, coming back from games at 2am in the morning and guys being in work on a Monday and just the whole what we're asking players to do is very, very tough...
Maybe give them two weeks for a semi-final, that would be a start. Something simple. I just think the turnaround was tough. But look, Dublin were fantastic in the second-half.
With an ageing squad, and a number of young players knocking at the door, it is unlikely we will see the same Mayo again next year.
James Horan hinted at such:
There's no question there'll be changes in that Mayo group for next year. I think that's clear but that will take its own course.
We've a huge amount of players, young players, that are involved this year, and new players. If we use that (result) right, that's a real learning to see where the top standard is. We have to use it that way, otherwise it's a hopeless cause.
But we'll learn from this; a lot of new guys on the 26, and a lot of guys outside the 26 that are pushing hard that didn't make it. This would be a significant learning for those guys.