Back at base after half the week away and there’s plenty of catching up to do. Thoughts about the match up in Derry have faded fast, replaced instead with a focus on Saturday’s evening’s clash with defending League champions Dublin at MacHale Park, where throw-in is fixed for 7pm.
It’ll be the first visit of the Dubs to our home patch for three years (how the powers-that-be in the GAA schedule games so that something like this happens is beyond me), with their last appearance at MacHale Park back in March 2012 being an evening to remember for us but, for them, one to forget. They finished that one with just thirteen players on the field on a night where Conor Mortimer wrote his name into the history books as the county’s all-time leading scorer as we thumped the then All-Ireland champions by a margin of twelve points.
2012 proved to be a good year for us against Dublin, as we also went on to beat them in that memorable All-Ireland semi-final later in the year. Since then, however, we’ve failed to beat them at all. In 2013, they had three wins over us, all in Croke Park, beating us in the regulation League fixture at the start of March and then following that up by beating us again in the League semi-final. But the biggest loss we suffered to them that year was, of course, the big one in September. I still, I must admit, cannot fathom how the hell we managed to lose that one.
They haven’t beaten us since but we haven’t returned the favour on them either. Our League encounter last year, also at HQ, was one we should have won with ease but contrived to blow by conceding three utterly preventable second half goals. In the end we were lucky to get away with the draw.
And so we meet again on Saturday night in a contest where the stakes are high enough. Dublin have four matches on the road this year and they’ve already lost both of the away ones they’ve played – against Cork and Kerry – while they were fortunate enough to claim a point out of that suffocating encounter with the Tyrone anti-football machine last weekend. If Jim Gavin’s men lose again this weekend relegation becomes a real threat for them so I think we can expect them to field something more like their A team and we should also be anticipating having to face opponents who will be gunning to secure a result at MacHale Park.
I don’t know if it’s just me, living up here and having spawned progeny that shout for them, but I always think there’s something special – in a good kind of way – about clashes between Mayo and Dublin. There’s a keen rivalry there, for sure, but it’s certainly a more good-natured one than that which exists between, say, ourselves and the likes of Cork, Kerry or Donegal.
In the spirit of brotherly love, Castlebar Mitchels have metaphorically opened their arms to the visiting supporters on Saturday, throwing open the doors of An Sportlann to the Dubs ahead of the match. Full details on this are in the poster below.
In terms of match odds, Paddy Powers have this one at evens, with that 15/2 price for the draw the most tempting one on offer. Interestingly, the same bookies have us as 5/2 favourites to land the League title and they’re not even providing a quote for us on getting relegated (Dublin are priced at 10/3 in that market, with Derry at 1/50 and Monaghan at 15/8).
Seeing as it is Thursday, I think we should have the team announcements later on this evening. Dublin may delay theirs until tomorrow (and almost certainly won’t line out as selected) but we tend to name our pick in or around nine on a Thursday evening and it’s usually the fifteen we start with.
Okay, then, let’s end with a poll: the bookies can’t separate the two sides for this one but what do you reckon about it?
How will we do against Dublin?
- Win (59%, 91 Votes)
- Lose (25%, 39 Votes)
- Draw (16%, 25 Votes)
Total Voters: 155