Game day – final spot the prize today

It’s Round 6 in this year’s National League and this afternoon our lads take the field against Donegal at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey where throw-in is set for 3.45pm. Seán Hurson of Tyrone is the ref and the match is live on TG4.

We snatched dramatic draws the last two times we played at this venue in the League but we’re still waiting for our first ever win over them in a competitive match played in Donegal. With us riding high at the top of the Division One table and them rooted to the bottom, today seems as good a day as any to put that irksome stat to rights.

Donegal aren’t in a great place at the minute, what with Michael Murphy now retired and Paddy McBrearty out injured, while the fallout from Karl Lacey’s abrupt resignation from his position as head of their development academy continues to rumble on. Both on the field and off it, they’ve plenty to contend with right now.

By contrast, we’re going well so far this year. The team is humming away nicely under the new management team and, while we’re still not devoid of the injury curse that has wounded us so badly in previous years, with Cillian O’Connor, Enda Hession and Rory Brickenden all missing out today due to different issues, so far at least we look like we’ve better depth to the squad.

We’re starting a strong team today – perhaps the strongest fifteen at our disposal right now – with Colm Reape returning between the sticks, while both Aidan O’Shea and Ryan O’Donoghue are recalled to the full-forward line. Three weeks out from the Roscommon game, it looks as if Kevin McStay and his selectors are homing in on their preferred starting line-up for the Championship.

Ahead of that, it now appears all but certain that, regardless of how we fare out either today or next weekend against Monaghan, we’ll be playing in this year’s League final. Neither Kerry nor Roscommon can overhaul us now, due both to our superior points difference and the head-to-head advantage we have over both of them, so a final appearance – most likely against Galway – is now beginning to look fairly nailed on.

Galway will still need to get something from their Round 7 meeting with Kerry next weekend to make the Division One decider. We, though, can confirm our place for Croke Park today if we avoid defeat against Donegal.

You’d have to think we’re capable of doing that. The O’Donnell County may be a bit down-at-heel right now but a wounded opponent, as England showed in the rugby yesterday, can prove to be a tough proposition.

Donegal still have plenty of good footballers in their ranks and, in front of their home support at a venue where they’ve proven extremely difficult to beat, they’re sure to put it up to us.

Our best form so far this year has been at home. In our away matches against both Armagh and Roscommon we wobbled badly in the final quarter and we can’t afford any such lapses today. Donegal are fighting for their Division One lives so if we give them any opportunities to damage us, they’re pretty much guaranteed to take them.

But in our five NFL games to date, we’ve shown we’re capable of inflicting damage ourselves. We’re the only unbeaten team in Division One, with the best points difference and, while Kerry are currently level with us on aggregate points scored, they’ve played a game more than we have.

Every game we play takes us closer to that pivotal Connacht SFC meeting with Roscommon next month. With Championship approaching, it’s important we see incremental improvements, week-on-week, as the start of the serious business of the inter-county season draws near.

What better way to show our intent than by claiming a first-ever win over Donegal on their turf, thereby sealing our berth in the League final? At this stage it looks like we can’t avoid a Croke Park date in a fortnight so we’re as well to embrace it. A win today in Ballybofey would certainly do that.

The women, meanwhile, have an important meeting with neighbours Galway at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park this afternoon (throw-in 2pm). Michael Moyles’ team are battling to retain their Division One status and a win today over the neighbours would pretty much guarantee top-tier League football for them next year.

Here’s to wins for both Mayo teams today, wins that would fortify both of them for the bigger challenges that lie ahead this year. We’re still in the foothills of this inter-county season but the push for the summit starts soon for both and it would be great if the two of them were to record much-needed wins, albeit for very different reasons, today.

Let’s hope that’s just what the two of them do. Up Mayo!

55 thoughts on “Game day – final spot the prize today

  1. Now that we are in the final we might as well win it. Looking like Galway will be the opposition.

  2. There’s two national competitions, of course you try and win it.
    Our panel is probably the fittest and most injury free in country currently so be favourites for it.
    There is games nearly every week or so now, when we had a break last week a challenge game was organised. So management clearly don’t see games week after week an issue.
    Plough on and try win every game.

  3. Form can’t be turned on and off like a tap.
    Go for a win today.
    Connaught championship will be a classic this year up to the final.
    There is a very sharp edge about Galway and the must be serious contenders for the All Ireland final.
    They don’t seem to have settled on their best 15 yet
    Roscommon always a danger and played well against Kerry.

  4. I am sure Kevin will play all the players he can today. We have a deep bench and the more game time they get the better for the championship. Same applies to the Monaghan game and the final. Great preparation if we make full use of the squad.

  5. Time to put that stat to rights today,as you say WJ. Keep the momentum going. Now not the time for wobbles and sowing doubt.
    With u-20s still having a day out I hope we see O’Hora for Sam C.

  6. Donegal away is always a tough assignment and if you think of it in the context of going to play there in round one gane of the All Ireland group stage. You would be thinking there are easier places to go…
    Its a good opportunity for younger players to experience a tough away venue . Mayo should wim but if they want to and perform but defeat or draw wouldn’t surprise me…

  7. Hard to call this one. Donegal desperate for points and will surely hit us with championship-like intensity today. Big test for younger players today. Donegal by 5.

  8. It’s bad enough when biased pundits like Pat Spillane say Mayo don’t want to be in the final when we are already in the final no matter what the results of the last two games , but to see our own supporters coming out with the same quotes / clap trap is truly amazing

  9. What’s the story with the women’s game. It was 2-7 to 13 points with 2 minutes to go but final score says 2-6 to 13 points… which is true??

  10. Thanks 2 hops… Feckit. Could they not build up my hopes so carelessly. Hard luck to the women. Galway are a very strong team.

  11. So no changes to the line out, Donegal will be a good test as desperate for points. Will be good to see how we perform, McStay sounds bullish in his prematch interview but actions always speak louder than words.

  12. Mayo in control so far. Let’s carry this on to the finish without the usual heart scares.

  13. Aw lads we are playing brilliant football, such a joy to watch, ruane, carney, oshea and doc all flying hopefully more of the same for the second half.

  14. James Carr very quiet in the 1st half. Hope he’s left on to pop a score or 2. stick for 15 minutes and run the bench then if possible

  15. A very good first half played in a good spirit,hopefully the second half will be as good,all our team playing well,and can all those people talking about not wanting to get to final please stop win every game and see where we end up,Mayo for Sam

  16. Good to see matty playing so well. I’ve harped on here a few times about the ability to kick points from the half forward line, a few occasions there where we should have. Will be important with teams playing so deep.
    McB should get confidence from his catch there. I’d say he will be tested more in 2nd half.

  17. So many positives again
    Colm Reape is the big one for me. He has suprised me. So commanding and kick outs are excellent.
    The perfect mix of Clarke and Hennelly :@

  18. That poor keeper pooing himself at the sight of big Aido coming at him. He’ll have nightmares.

  19. Good to see Aidan taking some nice scores and marks. Clearly something he’s working on and will be important going forward.

  20. Another great win but Donegal are a shambles, whatever happened to them this past few years.

  21. Aidan was outstanding and deserved MOTM. Donegal poor and like Monaghan are not good enough for Division One

  22. Mayo88, Michael Murphy has masked what’s been a steady decline.
    While I thought we’d win easy enough today, I thought they’d be a bit better, but sadly they far worse than I expected.

    It goes back to reality only a very, very small number of teams are realistic contenders.

  23. Good win and performance.

    Ourselves and Galway are flying under the radar this year…

  24. Aido kicking frees now I think we are definitely going all the way this year haha, brilliant display by all the lads today.

  25. The Cavan loss a few years ago was probably the turning point – the real beginning of the end for them

    Themselves and Monaghan are a shadow of their 2010s vintage. Genuinely wouldn’t shock me to see either in division 3 in a year or two

    Aidan O’Shea playing with a real point to prove. And fair play to him. Has very much forced mcstay’s hand now, he’s a nailed on champ starter

  26. Excellent performance by all the lads. Well done Aidan on motm. Thought Callinan was excellent. No goals conceded, which is good to see.

  27. A brilliant game,stop doubting,we are the real deal,for the first time ever I am not going to judge man of the,we were outstanding all over the field,and I have spent years criticising teams and managers, Mayo for Sam

  28. Looked like Aidan had something personal against Donegal keeper Patten. Made his life a misery !

  29. An outing in croke park a deserving reward for Mayo. And a serious test in store from our neighbours Galway/ Kerry. The management have definitely nailed the role of AOS. Reape growing in confidence but great team performance. 100th game for DOC. I thought Paddy Durcan was the holder upper in the centre Loftus given a free role and it worked well. Stronger opposition in the final will be a good test.

  30. Though our defence was excellent today obviously after the last day they did a lot of work in that area.
    Donegal though were clueless all over the place and we wouldn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
    Aidan was a revelation today and definitely has found his best position and popping over points for fun.
    McStay’s interview after the match was spot on too giving nothing away and definitely not getting ahead of himself.
    A league final now awaits us and that’s something to look forward to in a few weeks time.

  31. Very impressed with strength and depth we have at the moment, we have alot of lads who can pop scoree, think keeper is very solid so far on kickouts, when he came out today he got the ball.
    Early days but very happy with mix of kicking and running

  32. Sam Callinan probably won’t be released to the U20s now. With the injuries to Brickenden and Hession he’ll be needed on the senior team.

  33. MOTM poll is up. A bit later than usual but we were recording the Final Whistle pod. Rob and I are on it with Colm Boyle and Martin McHugh, also post-match quotes from Kevin McStay and Paddy Durcan. That’ll be up on Patreon in a bit.

  34. Like most teams in the country Donegal cannot replace or perform without the calibre of players Micheal Murphy Paddy McBrearty, mchughs etc and it showed this evening in that they looked completely rudderless They always say that the best type if training is playing games and the lads want to play and seem happy to be playing so let them have at it

  35. A new Goalie and full back line from last year’s championship, and how well they performed.

  36. Hard to be displeased with that performance, albeit Donegal were cat. Dominant all over the field although we did hit a fair few wides between the lovely scores.

    Now that we’re in a final, let’s win it.

    Kerry to beat Galway next weekend IMO.

  37. Great performance, Mayo including Subs were great all over the field. Kept running and showed great fitness on
    A very heavy pitch. But we should not forget Donegal
    were very poor.One of the poorest Donegal teams and performance I have seen in years.

  38. Don’t believe that I can’t pick man of the match,outstanding performance all over the field

  39. It Means Nothing To Me – I actually expect Galway to win that. Don’t think Kerry are bothered. They’re looking to shut the door on this league campaign, in my opinion, and just move onto championship preparations.

  40. Maybe we should give our lads some credit. Kerry were brutal, Tyrone were shocking and Donegal were cat. Could it possibly be that we made them look like that.

  41. You’re not wrong there Nephin. It can’t always be that the other teams are poor when we put them to the sword. Granted Donegal were the poorest they’ve been in a long time but they were at home, in a venue that’s been a fortress for them for several years and in a county where we hadn’t ever won a competitive game before yesterday. Donegal’s losses vs Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan were away, they beat Kerry and drew with Galway in their other 2 home games.
    It seems to be too much of a coincidence that we’re just that lucky that our opposition is terrible when we are winning. It’s not like we’ve been blessed with such luck before.

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