Time stands still for none of us and so it’s already time to consign Sunday’s narrow defeat to Cork to the memory banks and switch the focus instead to this coming Sunday’s clash with Donegal at MacHale Park (throw-in 3pm).
It’s the final regulation round of this year’s League campaign and if we fail to progress to the play-offs it’ll also be our last competitive match for all of ten weeks before our scheduled Connacht semi-final meeting on June 14th with the winners of the New York/Galway/Leitrim menage-à-trois. The prospect of such a long lay-off may mean that we approach this one with a strong determination to secure a result, though with the semi-finals scheduled for the following weekend we’d need to be thinking about making the decider (which is down for decision on April 26th) if we’re seriously looking to use the League to shorten that yawning gap until our first championship appearance.
The visitors have no such concerns, of course, as they’re rostered to face Tyrone in a preliminary round Ulster tie six weeks from Sunday. You could argue that Donegal won’t, as a result, be all that bothered about how their clash with us goes but I’m not so sure about that. Every county likes to have a spring gallop in Croke Park even if they’ve no intention of bursting a gut once they get there and the lads from the hills could, if they want, take it easy enough in the semis on Sunday week.
It was, of course, at HQ on that memorable day back in August 2013 that our paths last met. They came into that match as the reigning All-Ireland champions but left it utterly eviscerated after what was the most complete dismantling job I’ve ever seen a Mayo team inflict on opponents at Croke Park. Donegal were relegated from Division One that spring – we beat them by four points at MacHale Park in a match both sides really needed to win that March – which is why we haven’t encountered them in a competitive fixture since the year before last.
There’s sure to be another bumper crowd in Castlebar on Sunday. Sadly, though, I won’t be among them, as we’ve other plans made for the Easter break. I have, though, a guest contributor lined up for match reporting duties on the day and so I’ll have to make sure I have internet connectivity that evening to sort out getting the report up on the site.
The bookies have chalked us down as warm 4/7 favourites to prevail in this one but even though Donegal will have to do without the services of their talismanic captain Michael Murphy (suspended) on Sunday we’ll have to find a way through what’s likely to be another suffocating Ulster blanket. Will we manage to do this with sufficient regularity to claim the points and seal a place in the play-offs? Time to vote.
How will we do against Donegal?
- Win (85%, 212 Votes)
- Lose (8%, 21 Votes)
- Draw (6%, 15 Votes)
Total Voters: 248