Our second round match in Division Two North of this year’s National Football League takes place this afternoon. Our opponents in Mullingar are Westmeath and throw-in at Cusack Park is set for 3pm. The match is live on Eir Sport, with radio commentary on Midwest as well, and Cavan’s Noel Mooney is the ref.
We made a very positive start to this League campaign last weekend. We went at Down right from the off and we had the match won well before the finish. It wasn’t anything like a complete performance but it was completely fine in light of what we needed to achieve last Saturday.
It was also a display that was a whole load better than many of the of early round League performances we’ve put in in recent years. True, we’re not up against Division One teams in the League this year but what was really encouraging about last Saturday was that, in large part, we still played like one. There was an obvious gulf in class between ourselves and Down as a result.
Realistically, it should be the same in today’s game. Westmeath will defend in numbers – which they did against Meath last weekend, though with not a whole pile of method – and try to come at us on the break. Necklaces of handpasses up the field, interspersed with long balls into danger man full-forward John Heslin, appear to be how they go about taking the game to their opponents.
Too much of the former and we’ll surely gobble them up around the middle, turn them over and hit them hard on the counter. The latter might be more profitable, though, so the match-ups in our backline will be key if we’re to keep the danger to a minimum.
Our power around the middle third – which we can flood at will with plenty of tall, mobile players – should be too much for them to deal with and so too should the significant scoring threat we’re capable of posing. Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue were the stars of the show last weekend and while it’d be great fun to see them run amok again this afternoon it’d be equally good to see others step up and grab some of the limelight too.
Following their narrow loss to Meath last weekend – a match in which they let a four-point lead slip through their fingers to lose by a single point – the Lake County are already under pressure. They need a win and so we can expect them, on home turf, to do what they can to try to get it.
But we’re coming to town with the same aim in mind, and our objective is already a loftier one in this division. A win today qualifies us for a Division 2 semi-final and, with it, a one-off match a few weeks from now to seal immediate promotion back to the League’s top tier.
That’s a prize worth claiming and so I think we can expect to see the lads going all out for the win today. I expect us to get the win too, perhaps even with a bit to spare.
Elsewhere today, we have two other Mayo matches that are also worthy of a mention.
The first of these involves the Mayo camogie team, who face Kildare this afternoon in Division 4 of the Camogie League. That game takes place at Tooreen where throw-in is 2pm and it’s being streamed live via Facbook – link here.
The Mayo team put in a real battling display against Roscommon in the opening game last weekend. They were right in it early in the second half but the Rossies showed greater staying power from there to the finish and that saw them home in the end.
Kildare will be a tough nut to crack today too but if Jimmy Lyons’ side show the same battling qualities today as they did last weekend they won’t be too far off.
An obdurate approach will also be needed by the county’s women footballers this evening. They’re in action against Galway in the opening round of the LGFA NFL Division 1A, a match that throws in at 7.30pm this evening. This one will be broadcast live by TG4.
This evening’s game, in which Carnacon’s Fiona McHale makes a return to inter-county action for the first time in three years, marks a fresh start for this Mayo team and their new manager Michael Moyles. Our recent record against Galway has been poor – with just three wins from the last 13 meetings – but tonight is as good a time as any to start setting that record right.
Good luck to all three Mayo teams in action today. Back later on with reports on how all three fared out in their respective games.