The latest chapter in our championship summer is set to be written at Croke Park today when the lads lock horns for a second time with Roscommon. Our All-Ireland quarter-final replay at HQ throws in at 2pm this afternoon.
We know plenty about replays. Each year since 2014 we’ve ended up in them in the All-Ireland Series. Kerry in 2014, Dublin in both 2015 and 2016. Each time a second chance at victory, last year a second opportunity to claim Sam.
Three replays, three defeats. All of them games that could have been won but all, in different ways, which went away from us.
Today – in our seventh championship match this year – we get the chance to right that record. Roscommon, thumped in last year’s Connacht final replay, have their own rematch woes to talk about but they’ll come back to Croke Park emboldened by their display in the drawn game eight days ago.
For sure, this is a match that could easily go either way. Our repeated near-death experiences this summer prove that point, while Roscommon’s verve and dash last week demonstrate their ability to do what needs to be done to claim a first championship win for their county at Croke Park since 1980.
But for all their youthful zest, we’re still the team with the greater HQ experience and, as we showed the last day, we’re also the team with the greater ability to keep going for seventy minutes and beyond.
In the dying minutes of the drawn games it was us who were pushing for the win, us who missed all those late chances to seal it. Some would claim that these misses were costly and that we’ll pay the price today. Maybe so but maybe not.
Getting a win today certainly won’t be easy for us – what has been easy for us this summer? – but it is still an outcome that’s well within our grasp. August in Croke Park is when this team really starts to motor and I’m expecting us to lift it significantly today.
If we do, then the win should follow. A replay win to boot, as well as a place in the last four. Time for action once more. Up Mayo.