So, then, who’s ready for a bit of November Championship action?
According to the results archive here on the site, this is the first year since 1924 that we’ve played a Connacht SFC match – indeed, any Championship match – in November. On 8th November that year we beat Galway 2-6 to 0-5 at Tuam in a replayed Connacht final. There was December action then too, as we lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry early in the final month of that year.
Okay, enough looking back. Seeing as it’s a knockout Championship this year, it’s also dangerous to look too far ahead. The safest – and sanest – thing to do is to remain focused on the match facing us.
That match, this coming Sunday, is a Connacht SFC quarter-final against Leitrim at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon. Throw-in is at the early time of 1.15pm, the ref is Paul Faloon of Down and the match is being broadcast live on the RTÉ News Now channel.
Ourselves and Leitrim are forever ships passing in the night in the Connacht Championship. Since the blog’s inception way back in early 2007 we’ve only ever played them once and that was in the provincial semi-final of 2012. We beat them handily that day at MacHale Park on a scoreline of 4-20 to 0-10. Fun fact – that was the final appearance Conor Mortimer made for the county. He came off the bench that day and bagged two points.
Ahead of that meeting eight years ago I did a piece for the blog going through our complete Championship record against Leitrim. Aside from the result of the game we were to play a few days later, that piece is still more or less up to date. You’ll find it here.
The most recent time we faced the Ridge County on their home turf in the Championship was back in 2006. We emerged from that one a bit red-faced, having just scraped through with a fairly undeserved one-point win following a spirited second half fightback by the home team.
The last time we played them in Carrick was, though, in the FBD League. That was in early January 2019 when a huge Mayo crowd swelled the attendance at Páirc Seán to over 5,000 to see a pre-season joust that unexpectedly had to be decided on penalties. If it comes to it, by the way, so too would Sunday’s tie.
Leitrim were full of fight that January day, as they came from eight points down in the first half to force the draw that took the tie to spot-kicks. It might be worth bearing that in mind as the team head to the Shannonside venue this weekend.
Like ourselves, Leitrim didn’t have a positive League campaign this year and, like us, they ended up suffering relegation. When the music stopped last Sunday evening they were in seventh place in Division Three on three points and so they drop down to Division Four for next year.
That outcome would have been mildly surprising after their first League match back in January. That was because in Round 1 they travelled to Derry and came away with a creditable 1-14 to 2-11 draw against the Oak Leaf County.
Three defeats on the trot, though, came after that positive opener. Cork beat them by 1-15 to 0-9 in Carrick and then they lost away to Longford by 2-14 to 1-9 and at home to Offaly by 2-16 to 0-14.
Their final match before Covid struck was away to Louth and the 3-14 to 1-12 win they secured there gave them hope that they might avoid the drop.
Covid then intervened. Just as the action was about to resume a few weeks ago, Leitrim had a Covid outbreak in their squad, forcing them to give Down a walkover in Round 6. Last Sunday’s 2-11 to 0-15 loss to Tipperary at Sunday’s venue completed their League programme, the loss confirming their relegation to Division Four.
Like ourselves, though, Terry Hyland and his players won’t have had any time to dwell on their League travails. They will instead have switched their focus straight away to their Championship meeting with our lads.
As this is a knockout campaign, with all ties up to the All-Ireland final set to be decided, one way or another, on the day, Sunday will be the final day of inter-county action in 2020 for one of us.
We’re heavily favoured to do it – and we should – but we know from past experience that they can often be surprisingly sticky opponents on their home turf. Throw into the mix the time of year and the expected wet and windy weather and suddenly that favourites tag doesn’t look quite so secure.
So, let’s see what the confidence levels are like ahead of Sunday – over to you on that.
Will we beat Leitrim on Sunday?
- Yes (85%, 535 Votes)
- No (15%, 95 Votes)
Total Voters: 630