It’s the morning after the defeat in Killarney, a day where, when the final whistle blew, it looked for all the world like our Championship run had ended for this year. But it hasn’t. This odd Championship structure, which we’re only now getting our heads around, sees us back in action yet again in a week’s time, this time with everything back on the line for us.
This imperative means we simply have to look forward. There’s no time to wallow in yesterday’s hiding. A Championship defeat of yesterday’s magnitude would normally be talked about for several weeks before thoughts would eventually turn to the future and what next year might hold. But that’s not the case this time, with all our focus turning immediately to taking on Meath in Croke Park at 2pm next Sunday.
Aside from anything else, yesterday’s loss relieved us of our final safety net in this year’s Championship. It really is backs-to-the-wall for us from here on, with every game we play effectively a knockout one, certainly in relation to our hopes of making further progress.
That simplifies matters and it should also help to clarify the thinking in the days ahead. Forget Donegal for now, leave aside the permutations about what happens if teams finish level on points in the group and all that. Everything now needs to be fixed on Meath and how we can get the win over them that we need to keep us alive for a further week.
It was clear for all to see yesterday that the punishing schedule of games in recent weeks has caught up with us. We were tired and flat and we need a fresh injection of energy for Croke Park. How best to do this in terms of the team we select for Sunday? I wouldn’t hazard a guess there but I’m sure this will be uppermost in the minds of James Horan and his colleagues on the line.
They and the players have a tough few days ahead of them. They need to regroup rapidly and ready themselves for another big challenge in the wide open acres of HQ next weekend. Meath lost yesterday too but the battling manner of their defeat to Meath won’t have wounded them as deeply as the loss we suffered in Killarney surely must have done to us.
They’ll come to Croke Park sniffing blood, sensing the opportunity of claiming a notable scalp, a win that will help to ready them for the rigours of top tier League football next spring. They’re a team on an upward curve and they’ll want to show this on Sunday.
So it’s a dangerous game for us, one in which we’ll need a big performance if we’re to avoid a second Super 8s loss and with it, the evaporation of any remaining hopes of making the semi-finals.
After yesterday, that’s a big ask of the lads. But, you know, they’ve a habit of coming out with all guns blazing when backed into a corner and it’d be a foolish person who’d discount them doing so once again next Sunday.
In the spirit of not looking back and, in light of the fact that I’ve the road facing me yet again shortly with work commitments to attend to once I get back to the capital, there’ll be no Monday match reports from me this morning. I will, though, gather them all up for the results archive in due course.
There’ll be a match-day episode of the podcast online later on today and, of course, the results of the MOTM poll too. Stay tuned for all that – we’re not done yet. Up Mayo.