It is Monday morning and we did kick some serious hole against the Tribesmen yesterday so let’s get all that enjoyment out of the way, shall we?
I like the heading in the Indo’s report, I like seeing Keith Duggan get to write a report bereft of Mayo pain in the Times and I like the point that Club Mayo make about how our start to this year’s NFL compares with the lassitude we were showing this time last year. Like TIALTNGO, I’m happy to take a seven point margin even if it could have been seventeen. And I’d like to see what Seaneen over on the Galway football blog has to say about his countymen’s implosion at McHale Park when he gets around to writing up his full report on proceedings. If all those words are too much for you, you might like to have a look at a few of the snaps I took in Castlebar yesterday afternoon.
And that’s it – time to move on now. It’s great that we’ve made such a positive start to the year and Johnno (quoted in the Indo report mentioned above) is right to pull up anyone who’s been saying that we’re going backwards. I’m not the only one who came into the New Year in a downbeat mood about the team’s prospects and I’m delighted to have been proved so wrong about how the team might fare yesterday. At best, I thought we’d see another close fought encounter but I did have some fears that we could take a thumping. I never thought we’d be the ones dishing the thrashing out.
What we need now is to keep going at a nice even clip. There’s no point being the best team in the country in February or March – Galway have proved this point amply over the last two years, as did Donegal (and, to some extent, ourselves as well) the year before that. With away trips in the league to come against Tyrone, Derry, Cork and Kerry, we could still have our work cut out to retain our Division 1 status but obviously if we go up to Omagh next Sunday and put in a similar performance to yesterday’s we could be most of the way to safety then, with eminently winnable home matches against Dublin and Monaghan to come.
The ideal scenario for us would, I think, be to secure our Division 1 status early on in the campaign, which would then enable us to give more of the squad some proper game time as spring develops. We’ll need to bring in someone for Trevor against Tyrone the next day and I think we should be looking to give the likes of Neill Douglas and/or Alan Freeman a start. We could also do with a little rotation at the back. My sanity has already been questioned concerning my suggestion that Keith might be allowed to put his feet up for a game or two but I think such a move might have some merit. I reckon we could do worse than to do a bit of rejigging across the backline to see if there a tighter and more secure formation we could come up with. Now’s the time of year to be road-testing these kind of options.
And we’ve still got lads like Tom Cunniffe, Pat Harte, Barry Moran, Alan Dillon, Aidan Kilcoyne and Conor Mortimer to be integrated back into the set-up as spring progresses, which means that there could be a few fierce battles for places in the side as we head towards championship time again. One unexpectedly emphatic win doesn’t mean we can start to get all dewy-eyed about what the summer might hold for us but it does mean that we (myself included) can and should stop being overly pessimistic about where we currently stand in the scheme of things.