Almost a week on from our Croke Park collapse and I guess it’s time to draw a line under that one and start to look ahead to, well, what’s ahead of us.
The Cavan match on Sunday week, back on home soil at MacHale Park (throw-in 2pm), is obviously what’s going to be the main focus over the coming days. The Breffni lads have other fish to fry, though, before turning their thoughts to us as they first face a daunting trip to Healy Park this coming Sunday to face high-flying Tyrone.
Cavan have just one point on the board so far in this year’s League campaign and, if they’re still in that position when they rock up at Castlebar on Sunday week, then a quick return to Division Two will already have morphed from a strong possibility to a very real probability for them.
That would make our match against them a must-win for them. However, with our final two matches against Donegal and Tyrone – two teams we’ve a great record against in the championship but tend to struggle against when we meet in the League – we’ll no doubt be targeting the Cavan game to bag the two points that will seal our place in the top Division for yet another year.
I see that Wicklow’s Anthony Nolan has been appointed as ref for our clash with Cavan. We’ve never come across him at senior level before so I guess we’ll just have to take him as we find him. I’ve no idea what sort of official he is but a bit of googling on him just now showed that he wouldn’t be besties with the Wexford lads. There’s no pleasing everyone when you’re the man in the middle.
The only other bit of news about Sunday week that I can point you towards relates to the match odds for the match. Paddy Power don’t seem to have priced the game as yet but Boyle Sports have us at 2/7 to win it.
Away from the seniors, there’s underage action coming up shortly at inter-county level. The Connacht Minor Football League gets underway tomorrow and our lads open their campaign against Roscommon in Ballinlough. That match throws in at 4pm.
The U21s, meanwhile, will soon begin the defence of their Connacht and All-Ireland titles in what will be the final year of championship action at this level. The existing U18 and U21 under-age championships are shifting to U17 and U20 from next year and so this year we have the chance to end the U21 era on a high by capturing back-to-back All-Irelands at this level.
Since its inception in 1964, the U21 grade has proved to be a happy hunting ground for us. We’ve taken home the Clarke Cup a total of five times in the 53 years the competition has been running, reaching the final on six other occasions. Along with Galway and Tyrone we’re tied for third place in the roll of honour (Cork with 11 wins and Kerry, with 10, occupy the top two slots) and so were we to defend our title successfully this year, we’d end up as the third most successful county in the grade in our own right.
U21 is a tough title to win and Connacht is always a hard nut to crack. It won’t be any different this year, as Mike Solan’s lads will be pitched into a do-or-die provincial semi-final against Galway or Leitrim.
Those two counties meet in the preliminary round tomorrow afternoon at Tuam Stadium (throw-in 3pm – match preview here) and then we face the winners on Wednesday week (22nd). No venue or start-time has been announced for that fixture as yet. Roscommon play Sligo in the other semi-final the same day and the Connacht final has been fixed for 1st April.
See? Life does go on. Plenty to look forward to there.