So, after a break of almost seven months, this evening we’re finally back in action. The James Horan Mk II era faces its first competitive test tonight at MacHale Park where Roscommon provide the opposition in the opening round of the National Football League Division One. Throw-in is set for 7pm.
The start of the action every year is eagerly awaited. This time, though, after such a long lay-off, the anticipation has been greater than ever. This should be reflected in a huge attendance at MacHale Park tonight, which in turns creates the prospect of a special atmosphere in which to launch this new start for the county.
It’s important that this beginning is a positive one. Our League record in recent years has been, at best, mediocre and our home record in all competitions has become an embarrassment. Tonight affords us the opportunity to show that this really is the start of a new, positive era for us.
I like the look of the team picked for this game. While there’s significant experience in its ranks, there’s plenty of newer blood in there too and it’s how well James is able to meld the two that will, to my mind, dictate how we’ll fare out this year.
The lads face a tough challenge tonight. While Roscommon haven’t beaten us in a generation in any competition other than the FBD they often pose major problems for us. Under new management themselves and having enjoyed a successful pre-season, they’ll relish the chance tonight’s meeting presents to make a major statement of intent.
But James and his players will know that. This is a match we’ve been targeting ever since the League fixtures were announced so now comes our opportunity to show what we’re capable of.
Back to that big anticipated crowd, though, because support will be important tonight. I often feel that the huge home attendances are more a hindrance than a help to the team and, for sure, it’s the case that we’re way less noisy and partisan in our support of the team in Castlebar compared to on the road. If we really are to make MacHale Park a fortress, there’s some heavy lifting to be done in the stand as well as out on the pitch.
There’s also driving to be done by some, myself included, ahead of throw-in this evening. Safe travelling to all on the roads today – leave early, take it handy and arrive ready to roar.
We’re off again. The future begins tonight. Up Mayo.