So tomorrow we square up to Roscommon (well, sort of – do matches in the FBD really constitute competitive outings?) for the first time since we gave them the mother, father and little baby bear of a hiding in last year’s Connacht semi-final. Victory tomorrow won’t count for a whole lot – the Rossies’ FBD win over us last January wasn’t of much use to them when we got hold of them in McHale Park in June – but we do go into this match in the unusual position of being well placed to make the FBD final for the first time since the M&M era back in 2006.
Do we care about this? I don’t think Johnno does, as he appears to be completely focused at this stage on facing Galway in the opening round of the NFL tomorrow week. With the Tribesmen having once again qualified for the FBD final (is it time, perhaps, to rejig who plays whom on the way to this particular final?), Johnno might even prefer to see IT Sligo or maybe even the Rossies themselves ease past us tomorrow and claim that final showdown with the Herrin Chokers next month. After all, one match in the month of February with them really is more than enough to be getting on with.
Such an outcome might not be all that easy to manufacture in practice, though the fact that we’ve begun 2010 with far less pep in our step than Galway have means that it could be less difficult to achieve than we might think. If the Rossies come at us with plenty of vigour in the way that they did in Ballyhaunis last year and if we field a team that’s less recognisable compared to our opening two matches (which I’d say we’re almost sure to do), then we might well labour to beat them. The Sheepstealers beat NUIG by a point last Sunday, having lost to IT Sligo by the same margin the week before so they could, if they beat us tomorrow while NUIG take care of IT Sligo, claim a place in the FBD final themselves. There is also the small issue of regaining some pride after last June’s annihilation and even though revenge in January won’t count for much, they’d still like to have it. Despite all this, you’d still expect us to have enough in the tank to record yet another win over them, albeit by a far smaller margin than the sackful we had to spare over them last June.
I’m not sure how closely I’ll be following the action myself tomorrow. I think PJ is going to it but I’m not 100% sure about that and, in any event, I’ll be out and about myself for much of the day. I’ll have the iPhone with me while I’m out but, even if I am being kept in the loop about the action in Ballinlough, there’s a limit to the amount of tweeting I’ll be able to do while I’m at large. Still, it’s only the FBD and, like Johnno, I’m looking forward to being right in the thick of it at McHale Park next weekend to see our first proper match of the year.
Oh, before I forget – all the best to the lads from Kiltimagh who take on Monaghan’s Emyvale in the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship semi-final at Pearse Park, Longford, tomorrow (throw-in 2.30 pm). The boys in blue have a definite whiff of Croke Park in their nostrils at this stage so here’s hoping they can secure their place in the All-Ireland final tomorrow.