Morning has broken in what’s set to be a significant day for us in this year’s championship. The longest day of the year may not have arrived yet but today’s clash with Galway has all the feeling of being a pivotal one and it’s one we need to be up for.
Ourselves and Galway come into this game accompanied by different, competing narratives. We say that last year was a one-off, that they caught us on the hop in that one and that we’ll be more than ready for them this year. They say that the gap between us has closed, that they’re a team on the up and that we’re a side clearly in decline.
Both of these portrayals cannot, by definition, be true and both will come under searching examination at Salthill today. Only one of them will remain valid by this evening.
From our perspective, we’ve got to hope and expect that it’s our world view. While we know Galway are, for sure, getting better – and that’s a strong team they’ve named for the fixture – we know we’re one of the most experienced outfits in the country. Today at Pearse Stadium, where throw-in is set for 4pm, we need to put all that knowledge and maturity to good use.
We only played as well as we had to in order to beat Sligo in the opening round last month. Indeed, it’s a well-made criticism of us that, under Stephen Rochford, this way of playing has become something that supporters have had to get used to. The age profile of the team right now means a return to the helter-skelter style we adopted to such great effect under James Horan isn’t on the cards today but neither should be an approach that sees us playing well within our capabilities.
We tried that last year in the corresponding fixture at McHale Park and look where it got us. We know we can play at a far higher level than that and now’s the day to do it. If we can manage that, the result will, I’m sure, look after itself.
Right, enough of the words. Time for action, which in my case involves rousing the troops and hitting the road west as early as possible so that we’re in the City of Tribes well ahead of throw-in. If you’re on the road yourself today, take it handy – leave all the mad stuff for when you’re in the ground and when the lads on the pitch need to know you’re there.
Let’s do this. Up Mayo!