Imagine where Mayo would be without that man Paddy Durcan 3 years ago

Imagine where Mayo would be without that man Paddy Durcan

Stats are funny.

They can tell you how just about everything. They can tell you how fast someone runs, how hard they run, how long they run and they can show you clearly the impact a player can have on a game.

They can tell you possessions, create heat maps of action areas, point out flaws and mistakes and prove which players are most effective and most economical in attack.

They can be used in training, for progression, for monitoring, for clarity. They can support your viewpoint and they can offer something you originally had no idea about - not that you would admit it, like.

Stats can measure a whole load of things but stats can't measure heart.

They can measure the output but they can't measure the input. They can't tell you how much someone wants it because, when it comes down to it, you can't measure a dream.

Paddy Durcan is just in his second season with Mayo and you'd swear that he was just like the rest of them, there through all the hurt and heartache and oh so near misses down through the years. He plays like a man driven by the pain of what's went before him even though he, personally, has tasted that bitterness just once.

It's not like he's weighed down by the sob stories - not yet anyway - but it's like he's fearful of them. He's heard about it, he's seen it with his own eyes and he plays like a man so terrified of slipping into those doldrums he was warned of that he'd do anything to stay out of them, even when that means putting his balls on the line.

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Injury time arrived at a miserably drenched Croke Park on Sunday and Durcan waltzed up the field like he does so often and chanced his arm. He pulled the trigger, his aim disowned him, an opportunity went begging.

Three minutes later, the stakes were higher, the margins for error smaller but Durcan? He just waltzed up the field like he does so often and chanced his arm. He backed himself again, from further out this time. He pulled the trigger again. He came good this time. Again.

In the 74th minute, Paddy Durcan launched a missile from downtown and rescued another draw for Mayo to force another replay for Mayo.

And he just loves a second half, he does.

He thrives when a game is in the melting pot and when his county is crying out for a hero.

Look at what he's done this season alone against different opposition.

Derry: Scored in the 67th minute to put a point between the teams and to end a 17-minute scoreless run for Mayo.

Cork: Put Mayo ahead in the 75th minute but it was cancelled out in the 78th minute.

Roscommon: Tied the game in the 46th minute, put Mayo ahead in 68th minute but it was cancelled out in the 73rd.

Kerry: Scored the equalising point in the 74th minute.

He also struck when shit hit the fan against Galway earlier this summer. In the 54th minute, he helped rally the county and brought them to two behind but to no avail.

Against Dublin in the replayed final last year, he hit a monstrous point in the 55th minute to put them one behind - his second of the day.

They're never just run of the mill scores either. They're always with massive distance with bigger importance. When the hour arrives, so too does Paddy Durcan time after time and it doesn't matter if Stephen Rochford plays him from the start or from the bench, he'll deliver with whatever minutes he's given.

Mayo are headed for their ninth game of this championship campaign and they're alive and kicking because of Paddy Durcan. If it wasn't for him and his nerves of steel and his fearlessness in hanging his balls out there for the whole country to see, they might not have even made it this far in the first place.

But he doesn't allow them to go under. He inspires. He delivers.