This is just a quick one, at the end of a head-wrecking week of work and with a few days in the desert facing me next week where, as it were, I have to see a man about a camel. In between, tomorrow to be precise, we have two championship matches involving the county’s footballers and, before all that, my little buck is set to kick ball in anger for the Vins (the U7s, that is) for the very first time later on this evening.
I wish I could say more about the minors but I know very little about what shape they’re in and what their prospects are against Roscommon in tomorrow’s Connacht semi-final. (Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News knows a whole load more – here’s his preview). We were lucky to get past the Sheepstealers at minor level last year and we should really have gone under to them in the drawn Connacht final at Salthill. They’ll obviously be looking for revenge and aiming to do to us what their U21 counterparts did to our lads on Paddy’s Day. Still, Tony Duffy and his new team will, no doubt, be keen to make their mark at this level and, with no back door to fall back on, here’s hoping the lads can do the business at McHale Park tomorrow.
I’ll be up the road at Pearse Park tomorrow evening, as will PJ, but, by the sounds of it, it could be down to the bare bones in terms of Mayo support. The crowds following Mayo this year have all been small ones and I felt that the lack of vocal support for the team at Markievicz Park was particularly noticeable. PJ and myself will be doing our best tomorrow evening but we’re certain to be heavily outnumbered by a home crowd that’ll be pitching up expecting to see their unheralded heroes claim the scalp of a so-called ‘big’ county.
They could well get their win too – this is a route that has in the past seen us beaten by such lower lights as Westmeath and Fermanagh – and, like Sligo, Longford will be seeking to draw inspiration from a narrow qualifier defeat to Kerry last year. No more than was the case with Sligo, if we haven’t the game in the bag with twenty minutes to go, it could get very sticky for us tomorrow evening in the Midlands.
Although we won’t know for sure until we get our match programmes at the ground tomorrow evening, there’s intense speculation that Johnno has at last taken a meat cleaver to the team and that all of the worst underperformers at Markievicz Park will be watching this one from the dugout. I hope these rumours are correct and while such a move might be regarded as a bold one, it’s quite clearly one that’s being made far too late in the day by a manager who is obviously seeing out his final hours on the sideline. If there are significant changes, though, it does make the chances of a fresh start all the better.
I’d tend to share Liam McHale’s assessment of our prospects tomorrow. He reckons the Larries will be well up for it and will be aiming to use their physical bulk to knock our lighter lads about but he also thinks that we simply have to be looking to blow them out of the water. This is spot on, I reckon – if we see a stuttering performance like the 2007 round 1 qualifier win over Cavan, then we know that round 2 is likely to mean the end of the road for us this year (and that’s assuming that a poorish showing will still be good enough to win in Pearse Park, which, of course, it may not be). If, however, the lads put in a massively improved performance and work like fuck all evening to win by ten points or more then maybe, just maybe, there could yet be a twist in the tail as regards how this year championship pans out for us. I honestly haven’t a clue which it’ll be but I’m still looking forward to hopping into the car tomorrow afternoon and heading down the N4 to find out.