The GAA have published the fixtures for the 2009 NFL (here’s the full list) and this is what’s facing our lads in Division 1 of the competition next year:
- Sunday 1st February: Mayo v Derry (home) 2.30 pm
- Saturday 14th February: Donegal v Mayo (away) 7.30 pm
- Sunday 8th March: Mayo v Westmeath (home) 2.30 pm
- Saturday 14th March: Kerry v Mayo (away) 7.30 pm
- Sunday 22nd March: Mayo v Dublin (home) 2.30 pm
- Sunday 29th March: Galway v Mayo (away) 2.30 pm
- Sunday, 12th April: Mayo v Tyrone (home) 2.30 pm
So, we open our campaign against league champions Derry (who we really owe a pasting to at this stage) and close it against the All-Ireland champions Tyrone. After two seasons where we’ve had only three home fixtures, this time we have four at home but, of course, home won’t really be home for us in next year’s NFL what with McHale Park out of action for the whole campaign. (Where is home, then? Ballina, I suppose.)
It’s a tough enough fixture list and we’ll be doing well to come away from the trips to Kerry and Donegal with anything so we’ll need to gain as many points as possible from the home ties. Two points from the opening match with Derry would be a good start and we should be able to take Westmeath and Dublin at home as well. It would also be nice to end that Pearse Stadium hoodoo in advance of our likely Connacht final clash with Galway at the same venue later next year. Ending the league campaign with a home tie against the reigning All-Ireland champions should tee us up nicely for what lies ahead in the summer.
At a personal level, it’s a far less appetising campaign in terms of getting to the games from my Dublin base. The home games always involve a long trek from here but last season I did at least have two nice soft away trips – to Portlaoise and Newbridge – whereas next year the away matches are likely to be played in Ballybofey, Tralee and Galway. I think I could be covering a bit more of this campaign from the couch.
While on the subject of fixtures, the Mayo News reported the other day that the Connacht championship preliminary round match against New York will take place on Sunday 10th May (i.e. not the Bank Holiday weekend, the one after) at Gaelic Park in New York.