It’s only mid-April but already our first important knockout game of the year – one taking place at HQ too (and we’re not even the Dubs) – is facing us tomorrow. But it still is only the middle of April so it’s hard to know what to think ahead of this one: over the past two years we’ve had very contrasting performances by the county team at this play-off stage of the League and we still ended up getting as far as the All-Ireland final in both years.
In that sense, it’s difficult to know to what degree how we get on in the business end of the League impacts on how we get our heads sorted to face into the championship. On the basis of the last two years, you’d say it has little or no impact and this could be the way this year too, despite all that guff in the papers since the start of this campaign about our “need” for a League title this year.
For all that, I still think it’d be great if we really opened up on Derry tomorrow, not least because all the talk about tomorrow’s action has (understandably) focused heavily on the Dublin/Cork match. In that sense, a performance from our lads might make the Fourth Estate sit up and take a bit of notice.
More importantly, though, I’d like to see us use our far greater Croke Park experience to good effect by going out and bossing this match right from the throw-in. We’ve had a number of good Croke Park days in recent years against Northern opposition and despite Derry’s strong credentials, there’s absolutely no way we should be fazed about taking them on tomorrow in a winner-takes-all battle.
A battle is what it’s likely to be but it’s one that we can and should win to qualify for our second League final in three years. Safe travelling to all heading to the game and here’s hoping for happy hunting at HQ tomorrow. Up Mayo!