I’m hours behind everyone else coming to this, I know, but a combination of work and U14 football commitments this afternoon and evening has meant that I’m not that long in the door and only now catching up on the match scheduling decision and the reaction to it.
So, our Round 2 qualifier tie with Down has been fixed for Páirc Esler in Newry on Saturday, 22nd June, with a 7pm throw-in.
It’s fairly clear from the reaction in the comments that many are unhappy – and I can see why – with this scheduling decision. Anyone planning a roundtrip from Mayo on the day will still be on the road home after midnight so it’s definitely not a fixture that will suit everybody.
So nobody should feel guilty about not being able to make it. Or be told by others that they’re moaning or that they’re not proper fans or whatever.
Sometimes the best reaction to a stupid decision like this is to have a good rant – Lord knows, I’ve been fulminating in my own house for more than two whole years at this stage about Brexit and Trump – so if anyone wants a rant about Newry at 7pm then fire ahead.
It won’t change anything, of course – Championship fixtures, not just qualifier matches, are commonly fixed nowadays for 7pm on Saturdays and we’re not the first county whose supporters are being asked to go the extra mile and more in this respect. Last year, for example, Donegal were made to line out at Croke Park at the same time for their Super 8s match against Dublin, in what was an equally egregious scheduling decision as the one we’re now facing.
Ultimately, we have to suck it up. Each individual supporter has to make up his or her mind on what to do and doesn’t need to be lectured by others if this means giving the game a miss. Significant numbers of fans from different counties are voting with their feet in this Championship and it won’t be a surprise if the famed Mayo support turns out to be a good deal smaller at Páirc Esler the next evening than it’s been at so many other venues in recent years.
I wasn’t able to get either to New York or to the Roscommon game this year, missing both because I’d other things in the diary both weekends. Such is life. Newry at 7pm on the 22nd suits me fine – the drive up from here on the northside of Dublin is a bit over an hour – and the diary is free so I’ve no reason not to go.
It’s clear, though, that many others aren’t in the same boat for this one. That’s the way it goes – those of us who are aiming to be there that evening will simply have to shout that bit louder.