It was announced by Mayo GAA on Twitter yesterday that the lads will be lining out in the black ‘n’ lime green alternative strip at MacHale Park on Saturday. It’ll be the second time in this year’s championship campaign that the team is set to be attired that way – the first was, of course, over in Ruislip – and a similar scoreline to the one racked up back in May against London wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Seeing as it’s now Thursday and the match throws in on Saturday afternoon I guess we should be expecting a team announcement before too long. The Mayo News reported the other day that it was expected we’d be naming our team “on either Thursday or Friday” but there’s been no official confirmation as yet about when we plan to do so. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one. There’s no word either, by the way, on when Fermanagh are going to name their starting team for Castlebar.
Contrary to what I was saying yesterday, there’s a bit of coverage in today’s nationals about us. In the Irish Independent Martin Breheny has a piece with John O’Mahony about negotiating the backdoor route and how he thinks we’ll fare. After pointing to the likely obstacles facing us Johnno takes the optimistic tack saying that if we win on Saturday “the season will open up for them”. He adds that he expects us to do this.
Over in the Irish Examiner, meanwhile, there’s a very good piece by John Fogarty with former Mayo great Kenneth Mortimer (a man not given to saying all that much in public about the county team’s prospects so worthy of being listened to when he does). As he did on the field, Kenny spreads a sense of calm about the challenge facing us on Saturday, pooh-pawing all those “ridiculous” rumours and countering the argument that any direct line could be drawn between the events of last autumn and the tepid display against Galway last month.
Instead, the Shrule-Glencorrib man says candidly that “to a large degree it’s surprising a performance like that hasn’t happened sooner”. (In parenthesis I’d argue that it did – against Roscommon two years ago – the big difference being that on that occasion we got away with it). The main concern Kenny voices, which many of you on here have echoed, is that “not enough younger talent have been pushing for places”. He accepts that a few new faces have emerged but bemoans the fact that “there doesn’t seem to be more competition for some of the positions on the field”. Interesting piece – it’s here.
In the Irish Times, Second Captains GAA anchorman Ciaran Murphy has an entertaining piece (here) in which he looks ahead to the challenges facing both us and his native county this coming weekend. He reckons that, for both of us, the summer “was cleaved wide open in Castlebar” and that, as a result, different kinds of opportunities are there to be grasped by both ourselves and the Tribesmen. As he argues, it’s how we make the best of the respective roads we’re now on that counts from here.
Finally for now, some audio for you in the form of the Mayo News pre-match podcast. Rob and Mike are joined on this occasion by Seán Rice and Martin Carney to preview Saturday’s make-or-break qualifier clash.