Over five months on from our final competitive outing of 2019 James Horan’s Mayo team tonight take the field in their first meaningful game of 2020. A tasty one it is too, with Donegal the opposition at MacCumhaill Park this evening in the opening round of this year’s National League Division One campaign.
Ref David Coldrick is set to throw the ball in at Ballybofey at 7.15 tonight. The match will be broadcast live on Eir Sports 2, a channel which is now also available in Virgin Media land.
The start of this League campaign is slightly different for us. This time, for the first time in close to two decades, we’re defending the title, one we won in such thrilling fashion at Croke Park in March last year.
Tonight’s team is a much changed one from the side that beat Kerry to lift the title last spring. Part of that change is on the experienced side, with David Clarke back between the sticks and Tom Parsons starting a competitive match for the first time since 2016. The bulk of the change, however, comes from the introduction of new talent.
Oisin Mullin, Jordan Flynn, Bryan Walsh and Ryan O’Donoghue are all set to make their League debuts tonight. Padraig O’Hora has just one run-out off the bench in the 2016 League under his belt while James Carr – a player with solid Championship experience to his name – has only played in one League game to date, last year’s final.
It’s a big night for all of the new lads. While Donegal will also be tipping inexperienced players in at the deep end tonight they’ll be making their debuts on home turf at a venue where Donegal rarely lose, against opponents who have yet to beat them on their soil.
That points inevitably to the likelihood that it’ll be tough for us to secure a positive result in tonight’s game. We can certainly expect a tough battle against opponents who always front up in resolute fashion. If we get anything from this game we’ll definitely have earned it.
I’m sitting this one out myself, my changed circumstances this year meaning that I’m having to pick and choose more carefully the matches I get to. But it’s live on TV, with Mike Finnerty and Billy Joe Padden behind the mic – sure that’s halfway to it being like the podcast with pictures.
Safe travelling to all heading up the road this evening. By the way, if you haven’t yet listened to our League preview of the podcast – which, as well as Mike and Billy Joe (and Ed and Ger), also features special guest Stephen Rochford – then it would make an excellent audio companion for you on the trip north. You’ll find it here.
Best of luck to James and the lads tonight. Good luck too to the county’s U20s, who face Louth today in the Leo Murphy Cup final at Carrick-on-Shannon, and the hurlers, who open their NHL Division 2A campaign against Kerry at MacHale Park this afternoon. Both of those matches throw in at 2pm today.
Good luck to the lot of them. Up Mayo.