After a week’s break, the National Football League resumes this weekend and our Round 3 tie is another one under the lights. After the long trek to Tralee last time out, this one is back on home turf with Roscommon the visiting opposition at MacHale Park this evening. Throw-in is set for 7pm.
We’ve had a so-so start to this spring campaign, losing a winnable home match to Monaghan and then winning a match we could so easily have lost against Kerry in Tralee. Roscommon have lost two from two, though, and so they come to Castlebar with an increasing sense of urgency about getting some League points on the board.
They won’t rock up without hopes of getting something tangible from tonight’s fixture either. Victors over us the last two times we met at MacHale Park (admittedly both in the FBD League), Roscommon will be well aware that the Castlebar venue isn’t exactly a fortress for us. We lost two of our three home League matches last year (our sole win a nervous three-pointer over already relegated Down) and then proceeded to tank at MacHale against Galway in the Connacht semi-final.
We did, I know, right ourselves at Castlebar with our two qualifier wins over Fermanagh and Kildare before taking up residence in Croke Park for the remainder of last year’s championship. The Monaghan loss at the start of this month – as careless a defeat as could be imagined – showed, however, how vulnerable we are on home soil.
Against an experimental Roscommon this evening we should be doing everything we can to put a better gloss on our recent underwhelming home record. Sure, we’re far from full strength this evening ourselves (and don’t get me going on the topic of suspensions) but we’ve still got plenty of heft and skill in our ranks. A performance like the second half in Tralee should be enough to see us home but, unlike that game, we’ll need to play at that level for the full seventy minutes.
An added bonus if we win tonight is that we’ll overnight at the top of Division One. That’ll only be until the other three matches in the Division are played tomorrow afternoon but, still, it’d be the first time we’ll have been perched on top of the pile for a good while so it’s another reason to give it socks tonight.
From my own point of view, this is going to be a long day. Domestic scheduling – which takes in matches involving two of the kids up here shortly – means that it’ll be early afternoon before I’m on the road. I’m heading straight back to Dublin after the game as well, behind the wheel too so it’ll be the wee hours before the match report – a pithy one at that, I’d reckon – sees the light of day. I will, though, post the audio report and the MOTM poll onto the site before pointing the car eastwards after the game.
By which time, hopefully, we’ll have the Rossies vanquished and will be sitting on top of the table. Safe travelling all. Up Mayo!