Photo: @Helenos77 (via Twitter)
The days since last Sunday have flown by, already it’s Friday and so here we are, yet again facing into another all-or-nothing championship match tomorrow. What passes for normal life, in other words, for your average Mayo GAA fanatic this summer.
I’d say it’s been an interesting few days in both camps. For us it really has been business as usual. We’ve had a number of short turnarounds between matches this summer – since the Sligo game back in May it’s been three weeks, three weeks, one week, two weeks, one week, one week, two weeks and now one week again – so this latest short interlude won’t exactly have come as a shock to the system.
For Kerry, though, it must represent a bit of a jolt. They played their first game this summer the day we played our second one and since then their leisurely schedule has seen them enjoy gaps of three, four and three weeks between the games they’ve played.
The other factor, of course, is that we’ve been involved in several hard matches – with two qualifier ties going to extra-time and a draw against Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter-final – and we’ve got back out there again to face another knockout contest just days later. Kerry, by contrast, didn’t face a real contest in this year’s championship until last Sunday.
Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that the only injury doubt named so far ahead of tomorrow’s replay comes from their camp. The Irish Independent reports today (here) that wing-forward Michael Geaney, who was withdrawn mid-way through the first half the last day, is expected to be ruled out of tomorrow’s replay due to a stomach muscle injury.
In that piece, Colm Keys speculates that Geaney and Anthony Maher will be replaced by Jonathan Lyne and Jack Barry in Kerry’s line-up for tomorrow. I guess that both counties will name their replay line-ups at some point later on this evening.
It’s been fascinating to watch the narrative on both sides’ tactics develop over the course of the last few days. In particular, it’s been amusing to see how the headlong rush to judgment about our decision to put Aidan on Donaghy has given way to more nuanced analysis of the ploy. Aside from all the Kerry pundits, of course, who are all decrying it, in the hope, I suppose, that we do something different, thus enabling Donaghy to play puck tomorrow.
I think we will see different tactics from us tomorrow but, as I said the other day, I’ll cheerfully admit that I haven’t the foggiest what such plans – and playing personnel – this might entail. It might even – who knows? – involve Aidan in a more advanced role but then again it might not.
While we have a few issues we need to sort arising from our performance the last day, it’s clear that Kerry have plenty of problems of their own to deal with as well. How we might exploit the difficulties they faced last Sunday, allied to how quickly we’re able to unpick the remedial action they’re sure to undertake, could well determine the outcome of the replay.
The consensus appears to be that Kerry will be better, that they’ll have to improve on how they performed the last day. Maybe they will – I’d expect them to – but I also think we’ll put in a better showing tomorrow. Aside from anything else, the more benign weather that’s forecast should guarantee a very different type of contest to the one witnessed last Sunday.
That’s all empty blather, I know, but with the time ticking rapidly down towards throw-in tomorrow, there’s little more to be said. It’s time to see the team-sheets, time to print off the tickets, time to get ready for the fray once again in a bit over 24 hours from now.
Not long to wait. Only the eternity of a full day.