The waiting is over – all four weeks of it – and so later on today we’re back in action in the championship. Like the last two summers we’re also back in the qualifiers, this time starting out in Round 1, with a tough run of games to get through if we’re to make it, once again, back to the All-Ireland Series, which this year features the new Super 8s format.
And, of course, we’re back in knockout championship match territory. Back in a world where a poor performance – or an inspired opposition display – on any given day could end our interest in this year’s championship. We’re overwhelming favourites to overcome Limerick down at the Gaelic Grounds this evening but, for one of the teams, the inter-county football year will end in this game. We need to make sure that this isn’t us.
We should, of course, win this evening. I’m happy enough that the team we’ve picked for the job (albeit that it’s one which might feature a few late changes) will get it done and secure our place in Monday morning’s Round 2 draw.
Getting the win is obviously the primary target for this game. But it shouldn’t be the only one. We know from experience that momentum is a huge factor in getting a qualifier run going. A bright, confident display in this one should – as well as getting us the win – propel us forward into Round 2 in the right frame of mind.
Support for the team at the Gaelic Grounds was awesome the last two times we played down there. We could certainly do with tapping into a bit of that mood this evening, not least given how embarrassingly hushed we all were on home turf against Galway the last day. It’s not just out on the field that we need to up our game.
There’s little more to be said, to be honest – we need to win, hopefully win well and we all need to leave the place a little bit hoarse. Do all that and it’ll make for a productive evening in the Midwest.
Safe travelling all, best of luck to Stephen and the team, best of luck too to the county’s U20s in their Connacht semi-final against Leitrim at MacHale Park this afternoon. Back later on with the usual fun and games. Up Mayo.