A few thoughts on the draw

Photo: RTÉ

So the draw’s been made for next year’s provincial championships, giving us a bit of clarity about the shape of early summer for us next year. Not a bad shape either, you’d have to say.

It’s not an ultra-easy draw for us or anything. For the sixth year in a row we’ve been handed the task of beating both Roscommon and Galway in order to get our hands on the Nestor Cup.

But at least on this occasion we’re not pitted directly against Galway. In 2019 we can only meet them in the final, which, if that happens, will be our first Connacht decider against the Tribesmen since 2014.

That, of course, was James Horan’s final year in charge first time round. It was also the last time we played over in New York, following which we faced Roscommon in the semi-final. So next year could have a back to the future feel for us in more ways than one.

Overall, you’d have to say this is a good draw for us. Roscommon – assuming they get by Leitrim and we account for the Yanks – will provide a strong challenge in the semi-final and, as a fellow Division One outfit, that’s a challenge we cannot afford to be in any way blasé about.

That said, you’d have to think a semi-final against them at MacHale Park would be a winnable tie. After all, the most recent time the Rossies beat us in the championship was way back in 2001 and even though they’ve performed better in Connacht than we have of late, we’d always fancy our chances playing them.

If we get over that particular hurdle we should be well set for Galway in the final. I know this assumes they make it through the other side but, faced as they are with the might of London and Sligo, I think it’s a reasonable assumption to conclude that they will.

I know we’re jumping ahead a bit here but if a Mayo/Galway final does materialise it will mean a first appearance for a Mayo team led by James Horan at Pearse Stadium since the carnage we inflicted on them at that venue in 2013. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d certainly be up for a bit of that kind of back to the future next year.

Speaking of James Horan, Rob Murphy and I had the honour of sitting down with the manager for a chat at the media event that was held last night at the Greenway Café in Lough Lannagh Village, a veritable stone’s throw away from where the planned Mayo GAA Centre of Excellence will be located. That discussion will form the centrepiece of a bonus episode of the Mayo News football podcast – the third episode this week: you lot are really pushing your luck at this stage – which will be online shortly. That’s one not to be missed.

23 thoughts on “A few thoughts on the draw

  1. Look forward to that podcast WJ.
    I agree it is a good draw.we will have to be in good shape going into the Rossies game. No gradual built up, scraping by inferior opposition. I expect a competitive league campaign also.
    Competition for places all around the field now and Horan is a specialist in improving young players. A lot to look forward to.

  2. I know it’s gone up here somewhere before, so apologies in advance, but I can’t seem to see the date of the NYC fixture. Is set to be over the May bank holiday (i.e. 4 – 5 May 2019)?

  3. A very achievable provincial final means, at the very worst, just one qualifier game to make the Super 8’s. However, I feel that Galway will see a very different Mayo team this time around!

  4. Its great that all the positivity,and optimism, is back,wouldn’t it be brilliant to do well in the league,reclaim Connaught, and go well in the super 8s,and go after Sam with a vengeance, and see where it takes us,or am I asking a bit much.?

  5. @Yew Tree, most of the county and her cousins by the sounds of it! The capacity of Gaelic Park will be tested to the limit I’d say. It only holds 4000 or so. I sincerly hope the organisers have a better plan to cope with the crowds this time than they did the last time.

  6. Really looking forward to the league campaign now. We have a lot to be excited about. Horan will unite the squad, he’s making everyone attend trials according to the Irish Times which is a good move. I thought with him returning there wouldn’t be any retirements which is also positive, although some of the elder statesmen will see less game time but they are all capable of turning games around when brought on as impact subs.
    AOS gave an excellent interview the other day on Off the Ball. These lads have had a well deserved rest for the first time in 8 seasons and when you look back on 2018 we were really hammered by injuries.
    New manager, blood new talent in the league and the fact that JH will get the very very best out of the experienced players in the squad due to the respect they have for him should give us great optimism for 2019.
    All was certainly not lost in Conleth Park.

    Maigh Eo Abú

  7. Saw that the flights are actually very reasonable from London so have pulled the trigger – worth a look for anyone who’s thinking hard about it!

  8. I’m going to NYC but it’s only a 2 hour drive! Hotel rooms for Sat night booked — seven in our party. Was there earlier this year. I heard about 6,000 were in attendance. Lots of SRO on the hill. Gonna be crazy.

    I might have to come over for the conquest of Galway in the final!

  9. Way out west – I agree and I’ve booked already with a group. From what I’ve heard 3,000 have already booked. With Gaelic Park under renovation and not due to be completed, I wonder will attendance be reduced?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes all ticket. Talking to people out there last time, they said Mayo by a country mile bring the biggest folllowing stateside.

  10. Should have expected a big crowd I guess! If it’s outside the season ticket is that the same for Cairde? if anyone’s got experience would be great to know if and when I’d need to start thinking about tickets (thought I’d be fine for a few of us to walk in on the day).

  11. Yeah, all booked up for New York too.. Haven’t the heart to break it to the Kerry woman yet that her holidays next summer are going to revolve around Mayo football too! Tickets will be tough got, there are renovations ongoing, but will be completed on time I’m told (March) so there should be no reduced seating issues, however you can expect double the capacity looking for them! All ticket will probably be the way it will go!

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