Right, the day has dawned. It’s All-Ireland semi-final day and this afternoon at Croke Park our lads take on Kerry with a place in next month’s final the prize. The match throws in at 3.30pm this afternoon and Maurice Deegan of Laois is the ref.
With the time before throw-in now measured in hours and minutes, there’s little time left for talking so I’ll make this one brief. Many of you will, in any event, be on the road right now heading east, readying yourselves for another massive Mayo day at HQ.
It’s a grand morning up here so far, with barely a puff of wind and no sign of the rain that’s forecast to fall in bucketloads later on. Maybe we’ll be spared the worst of the torrent while the match itself is on.
Whatever about the conditions, though, what we need to see from us today – from the lads out on the field and from supporters up in the stands – is a raging storm that lasts from start to finish. Nothing but our best – our very best – will be good enough to seal the deal today and so we need to unload everything we’ve got on the opposition from from the start.
Kerry are, rightly, favoured to win this one. They’ve glided in stately fashion into this semi-final, with three routine wins under their belts and they also take the field as the current League champions. They don’t lose games like this one often and we know full well that our championship record against them doesn’t make for pretty reading either.
But we know too about the talent, desire and never-say-die attitude in our own ranks. Those qualities have been sorely tested this summer but every time the lads have proved equal to the task. Today they’re sure to be tested like never before but it’s a measure of this team that we can be confident about their ability to respond and to thrive in this white-hot environment.
There’s been much talk in the lead-up to this game about Limerick three years ago and all that. While that 2014 tie provides a backdrop to this one that’s all it does. Today isn’t about revenge for 2014, instead it’s about winning in 2017 and that’s where our focus needs to be.
Can we do this? Of course we can but only if everyone plays their role to the full today. That includes supporters as well as players – today isn’t a day for passivity or timidity in the stands. The lads need our full support and it’s our job to give them that.
Okay, enough of the blather. Now it’s time for action. Time to march on Croke Park and take down this kingdom. Let’s do it. Up Mayo.