The sun has just come out here in the West – we made the journey down in the late afternoon yesterday on near-empty roads – and it looks as if the weather should be fine, though maybe a touch on the blowy side, for this afternoon’s League match with Derry at MacHale Park.
Although it’s a shadow Derry side we’re facing today, the job that the lads have to do remains the same. Win the match and we’re into a semi-final this day week at Croke Park, most likely (though this won’t be confirmed until all the various results are in) against the same opposition. It doesn’t matter a jot to us if we get no kudos for winning against weakened opposition today and it won’t negate in any sense the satisfaction we’ll get from having qualified for the League play-offs for the third year in a row. Providing we do qualify, of course.
We’ve all seen how well Derry (their first team, that is) have done so far in this campaign. Beating Kerry down in Killarney was a significant achievement and sending the Dubs home with a six-point defeat in their hand luggage was more impressive still. We may get to cross swords with the lads who made all this happen next weekend but first we need to battle our way through the largely unknown team they’re fielding this afternoon.
And that’s exactly what we should do today. James has sensibly gone with a small number of changes from the team that started last weekend and the aim has to be to make the League points secure as soon as possible this afternoon. Then, and only then, should we be thinking about ringing the changes, not least as we know to our cost from the last few matches how upsetting mid-match personnel switches can be to our rhythm.
First and foremost, we need a win today and hopefully there’ll be a big, noisy hometown crowd at MacHale Park this afternoon to see us get it. With the sky having turned blue and set to stay that way for the rest of the day, Club ’51’s decision to head for the bleachers across from the stand seems like it might be a well-timed one and I think that’s where we’ll be heading too. Here’s to a loud, boisterous and winning afternoon at MacHale Park today. Up Mayo!