It’s game day again, with a return to Croke Park for James and the lads. It’s a return to win-or-bust territory for them too.
So much has happened since the last time the team played at the venue in the League final at the end of March. Defeat to Roscommon a few weeks after that threw our planned Championship trajectory out of kilter with the fact that today’s match is our fifth in as many weeks being a direct consequence of that wholly avoidable loss.
But there’s no point looking back. No point either thinking ahead to what might happen in the Kerry/Donegal match later this afternoon, a contest with which our Phase 2 clash with Meath shares the billing at Croke Park today.
We need to mind our own business today. Meath are dangerous opponents, with Andy McEntee’s team already firmly in bonus territory for the year and looking to cap the fine progress they’ve made in 2019 with a significant scalp. In that regard, we’d fit the bill for them perfectly.
So James and his team need to come to HQ prepared. They’ll know more than the rest of us why the meltdown in Killarney happened in the manner that it did and they’ll be aware too what they need to do today to get themselves into a winning position and, most importantly, to see the win out.
That’ll be far from simple. But, as we’ve seen so often in the past, this team is at its best when everything is on the line, when doubts are being voiced about their ability to raise their game. They’ve done it before, we all hope they’ll do it again today.
There’s no better place than Croke Park for any team to raise its game. It’s a venue where we’ve consistently performed well since 2011 and you’d have to think the team will respond in the right way to appearing on the hallowed turf once again, for the first time in the Championship since the 2017 All-Ireland final.
I was Croke Park on that emotion-laden day but, sadly, I won’t be today, though I will be following the action as it unfolds. You’re in safe hands today, however – friend of the blog Tom McLoughlin will be penning the match report later on and the MOTM poll will be up there as usual this evening too.
We’ll have a far better idea later this evening about how our hopes rest in this year’s Championship. What we know now, though, is that to have any hopes of further progression at all we need to beat Meath today.
Here’s hoping that this is exactly what we do. The best of luck to James and the team today. Up Mayo.