Mayo manager James Horan had already conceded the fact that his side handled Dublin’s third quarter power surge very poorly when the subject of fatigue was mentioned.
For sure, six games in seven weeks was a convenient raft to cling to, but Eamonn Fitzmaurice has already written on these pages lately that the championship burden on amateur players now borders on the senseless.
“I’m not trying to make excuses but I’d say our legs were sort of heavy (in the second half). That was a double whammy because it made them look strong and us look tired.
“There’s no question that Dublin’s conditioning and application is top rate but 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 coming back from games at 2am in the morning and guys being in work on a Monday, what we’re asking players to do is very, very tough.”
The solution – certainly the beginning of one – is obvious enough.
“Maybe give them two weeks for a semi-final, that would be a start,” smiled Horan.
“That’s something simple. I just think the turnaround was tough. But look, Dublin were fantastic in the second-half.”
The winter’s reflections in Mayo won’t be all Horan’s or the loyal fan base.
“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. If we use Saturday well, 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 are pushing hard. That game would be a significant learning for those guys.”
Something else Horan said is significant, and daunting for their final opponents.
“(Dublin’s) running is very, very strong, their conditioning is very good. They looked impressive when they were running through us.”
Dublin, he said, “pinned back their ears” and went to work on decimating all the good work Mayo had put in to build a 0-8 to 0-6 half time lead.
“We were pretty strong in the first half, we defended well and built a few good scores. I thought we were patient and could have gone in more than two (points) up.
“But at the start of the second half, Dublin were very strong and they came at us very hard, Horan reflected. “Con O’Callaghan got a goal but before that we put a shot into their goalie’s hands and (Dublin) came down and scored from it.
“Then they won the next five or six of our kickouts and got a second goal. In that period they were in complete control and we were struggling to get our hands on possession.
“They are always going to come at you, they have such pace and athleticism and skill all over the place.
“When Con O’Callaghan got the ball in his hands he was just going run at his man (Lee Keegan).
“When a couple of things like that happen, suddenly your legs get a bit heavy and they took full advantage for that period.”