Mayo have been drawn to play Fermanagh on July 9 in their first qualifier appearance since 2010. It does pose the toughest draw they could have got however home advantage should make them overwhelming favourites. Fermanagh have two seriously good forwards in Tomas Corrigan and Sean Quigley, and their midfielder and captain Eoin Donnelly is an inspirational player for his county but we are dealing with a seasoned Mayo team who should be more than capable of dealing with their threat, Naturally Fermanagh folk are gutted as an away trip to Mayo was the last thing they wanted. It really was the nightmare draw for the Ernesiders. Incidentally Mayo are priced at 1/12 to prevail while you can get 7/1 on Fermanagh. I’m mystified at such short odds on Mayo.
Outside experts writing us off
I was in the RTE studios in Dublin last weekend for Radio 1 analysing the Leinster semifinals, and after the full day there and listening to the other pundits and commentators talking about the football championship in general there is an overriding feeling among them all that Mayo are a beaten docket and no longer a threat to the bigger teams in the country. It's amazing what a few weeks in football does. I wish I brought a Dictaphone with me because I answered the question “what happened to Mayo” at least 30 times. Despite Pat Spillane and co saying Mayo were the only team capable of beating Dublin a few short weeks ago, Stephen Rochford's team are now cast aside as no hopers by the “experts”.
Tyrone and Kerry are now the only teams capable of beating Dublin according to the majority. This of course can be a good thing for Mayo as a motivational factor as long as the players and management buy into the fact that they have to seriously work hard together for the good of Mayo football. Cohesiveness in a time of despair is the key. If I were to believe all the rumours I have heard over the last few weeks then things are not very rosy in the Mayo camp but like all stories they gather legs and may not be true at all. The bottom line is this, if Mayo play like they did against Galway when Fermanagh come to MacHale Park then Mayo will be out of the championship. The fact that the Sunday Game panel declared Fermanagh would take beating and that Mayo were in dire trouble can only alleviate the pressure on Mayo while adding pressure on a Fermanagh team that looked very mediocre against Donegal in the first round in Ulster, wilting away while Donegal played most of the game with 14 men.
Championship slowly starting to move through the gears
The games are coming thick and fast now and I have to say I really enjoyed the Ulster Championship match between Donegal and Monaghan which of course finished in a draw. It was a proper old fashioned game of football with high intensity, big hits, and some fine scores. It just shows you the competitiveness of things up North as both semifinals finished in draws. You would wonder whether it's a good or a bad thing for their teams to have such intensive battles right through the championship, only time will tell, they really have to be at their peak for a prolonged period of time. Compare that to the walk in the park Dublin had against Meath where they didn't even get out of second gear and cantered home by 10 points. Meath were terribly disappointing in the second half and offered little resistance. Dublin toyed with them and played a game of keep ball at the end where they kept possession for nearly four minutes without a Meath player even getting a tackle in. Meath back Mickey Burke was very lucky not to get his marching orders for a clothes line tackle on Ciaran Kilkenny. It was Dublin’s first time in five years not finding the net in a championship match but they didn't really need to. They are an awesome outfit. It didn't really surprise me that Westmeath turned over Kildare either. This Kildare team are very fragile at the moment and excluding their match against Wexford they had conceded a massive 15-41 in their three previous games in Croke Park. Westmeath were a great price to win at 11/4 and they rightfully qualified for their second successive Leinster final.
Andy Moran was the star of the Mayo club championship last weekend. Mayo's most capped player helped himself to a massive 3-7 for his club Ballaghadeereen when they took on Kiltane. I don't care who you are playing but 3-7 is a massive haul especially in a senior championship game. Ballintubber got things back on track with a demolition job on my own club Charlestown who are in serious trouble, Ballintubber's final game against Aughamore (my outside bet ) will ultimately decide the fate of both teams as Hollymount Carramore will fancy their chances against Charlestown. Both reigning champions Castlebar and last year's beaten finalists Breaffy eased to victory in their games against Ballinrobe and Claremorris respectively which should see both make the last.
Well done to the Mayo minors who have qualified for the Connacht final after a facile win over Leitrim winning by 4-11 to 1-08. Belmullet attacker Ryan O'Donoghue's card will be marked after he top scored with an impressive 3-4.