Higgins: 'I was lucky not to see red'
Mayo corner-back Keith Higgins had the unenviable task of marshalling Galway legend Padraig Joyce in Sunday’s Connacht semi-final but admits he was fortunate to see out the full 70 minutes.
Mid-way through the first half Higgins made a trademark darting run out of defence to set up an attack but it turned sour after he offloaded he ball to Trevor Mortimer.
Galway’s Mark Hehir came into Higgins’ line of sight and TV replays showed the Ballyhaunis clubman striking Hehir in the side of the head while the Galway man attempted to block Higgins' run.
Referee Rory Hickey consulted with his assistant and decided a yellow card was the correct punishment for the striking offence.
“I probably was lucky not to get the line. I haven’t seen it on the telly properly yet,” Higgins said.
“He came across me to try and stop me. I don’t know why I did it really, it was stupid. As soon as I hand-passed I knew there was someone coming across me and I just automatically raised the hand. I got lucky with a yellow so I’ll take it.”
Higgins cannot be reprimanded by the CCCC at this stage as Hickey has already dealt with the situation by booking the player.
As for the difficult day’s work of keeping tabs on the elusive Joyce, the Mayo dual star feels that the 34-year-old still has a lot to give in the Maroon and White.
“He’s just so cute. He’ll stay in and look for the ball over the top and once he gets it he’s awful strong and hard to stop. He’s still got that bit of class to him,” Higgins said.
The first provincial semi-final to be televised by RTE on Sunday certainly didn’t capture the imagination of neutrals tuning in around the country and Higgins is aware that, although Mayo improved in the latter stages, they will have to come up with new tricks to overcome reigning Connacht champions Roscommon.
“The first half was very bad but I thought once we started getting a few points in the second half we were always going to catch them.
“A few lads like Ronan McGarrity coming back from injury should help. The win against Galway gives us confidence. If we don’t perform we’ll be beaten out the gate. We won’t get away with an overall performance like that against Roscommon.”