With all the focus in the lead-up on Storm Ciara and whether or not today’s match against Meath would go ahead – it will, this was confirmed earlier this morning – it’s easy to forget about the significance of this clash in Navan. That would be wrong because, in the context of how this League campaign pans out for us, this clash is an absolutely critical one for us.
James Durcan’s goal up in Ballybofey and the harsh red card dished out to Jordan Flynn against Dublin have, to some degree, shielded from open view what has been a poor start to the defence of our League title. A loss today, however, and our troubles will be clear for all to see and, if we follow that up with another loss in the next round – against Monaghan in Clones – then our days in Division One are likely to be running out.
A win today, though, and we’re moving again. This looks like a campaign where everyone is going to take points off everyone else – Monaghan, for all their dash last night, have only accumulated three points, despite fielding at full-strength – so it’s vital that we start to get some on board ourselves. Also, if we do win, Meath will start to become resigned to their fate, leaving just one other relegation spot to scramble clear of.
The weather will, of course, have a huge bearing on today’s game. The venue is an unfamiliar one for us – have any of our team ever played there before? I very much doubt they have – and the conditions will be very difficult. It’s a day for doing the basics right, something you’d have to say hasn’t really been a strong feature of our play thus far this year.
We’ve gone once again today with a heavy emphasis on youth. To be honest, we’ve little choice but to do this and a match like today will tell a lot about what kind of appetite these lads have for adversity. Let’s hope they’re up to the test.
We have some experienced bodies in there too and while Aidan’s not named on the team it’d be a surprise not to see him on the pitch for the bulk of the seventy minutes. We’ll need his heft and power today.
Despite the weather, it’d also be surprising if there isn’t a big Mayo following in Navan this afternoon. If you are heading there, then take care on the roads. If you’re not, don’t forget that TG4 are streaming it on YouTube – here.
Our journey down to Navan today from the capital is a shorter one – as the old ad says it’s only an hour from Dublin – and we’ll be assembling before too long for the off. With that weather and the small stand in Páirc Tailteann it’s a good idea to get there early.
By this evening we’ll have a better idea how this League campaign is shaping up for us. Today could well be a grim battle but we’ve come through worse before over the past decade. This is one to win. Let’s go do it. Up Mayo.