I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m happy enough with our draw for next year’s Connacht championship. I know that it most likely means we won’t get into any kind of serious scrap until the middle of July but with London no doubt salivating for another cut at us while if it’s Leitrim Mickey Moran would finally get to face us again in the championship, I guess we shouldn’t be saying too much about next July just yet. But I’m still going to tempt fate a bit and do so.
I know that a hard draw for us in 2012 might have been good for the soul but I’m glad that we’ve dodged the bullet that could have been Galway at Pearse Stadium in the preliminary round (2007, anyone?) and it’s kinda nice – for the first time in ages – to see the Herrin Chokers, Sheepstealers and Magpies all congregated over in the other half of the draw. I think they’ll all get on famously with each other.
Indeed, that half of the draw throws up a number of interesting sub-plots, with Galway’s new manager Alan Mulholland sending his side out to face a Roscommon team that’ll also have a newbie bainisteoir following Fergie O’Donnell’s decision to step down at the helm there. Then, should the Tribesmen win that one (which I think you’d have to fancy them to), it’d be Mulholland v Kevin Walsh in the semi. Fascinating, as Darren Frehill kept saying on the telly last night.
For our part, 2012 offers us the chance, for once, of doing the Kerrymen on it. With the greatest of respect to Leitrim or London (and notwithstanding this year’s near-bolt from heaven), I can’t see either of them keeping us out of next year’s Connacht final. This means that we can already consider ourselves as good as into the last twelve in the 2012 championship, which is normally the starting position the Kerrymen enjoy every year (though not next year it must be said as their annual Munster showdown with Cork will happen at the semi-final stage).
Even with our ultrasoft draw, we’re still not, of course, guaranteed a place in the 2012 All-Ireland Series and a Connacht final date with Galway in Pearse Stadium (which I think is a strong likelihood) could never be seen as a gimme for any Mayo side. But if we prepare properly for this test, just like the Kerrymen always do for their one hard battle prior to getting to Croke Park every year, we could find ourselves back in an All-Ireland quarter-final next year without having expended the kind of energy normally required to get that far. Then, like the Kerrymen always do, we’d really need to get down to business. Should we start practicing the yerras now, I wonder, or would it be best, like, to leave it ’till after the winter break?