Mayo were (at the time of writing ) still planning to head east on Sunday for what is more and more looking like a must-win game if they are to retain their division one status for another year.
This Sunday’s planned meeting with Killdare will pit the two teams currently in the relegation positions in the table against each other with Kildare currently pointless in the bottom spot.
A win on Sunday for Mayo would be a massive boost to them ahead of their final two league games against Tyrone and Donegal in the coming weeks. Last weekend’s loss to Dublin was Mayo’s third defeat on the bounce, but facing the All Ireland champions with only half of their first choice team meant winning that game was always going to be a big ask.
But there were plenty positives to take from the game according to manager Stephen Rochford afterwards: “There are some positives and a lot of things too for us to work on. There are different objectives in the league but we did not deliver on the one that we wanted tonight, which was to win two points.”
The early goal that Dublin plundered is something that Mayo will have to learn from he added: “Paul Mannion got in along the end-line. Maybe there was a little bit of inexperience from Eoin O’Donoghue but he will learn from that. After that we coped quite well and we were just a point down for a lot of the half so there are a lot of learnings we can take from the game as well.”
The surprise return of Lee Keegan to a starting place last Saturday night was another major positive with the Westport man getting his first game time after having to sit out the early rounds of the league. “I thought he adapted well in what was his first game in four months. That graph will obviously push up and he has a game, as do all of us, against Kildare.”
The defeat was another home loss for Mayo in the league and it is something that the Crossmolina man is conscious of with just one vital home league game left this year: “A defeat is a defreat, whether we have it here or at another venue. We aren’t happy with our home record but we will try and improve on that against Tyrone.
“We don’t tend to be at our best in the early rounds of the league. Over the past few years we have had a longer winter period due to our summer exploits so that has an affect and we tend to be slower out of the blocks as a result.”
As it stands Mayo are sitting on two points, the same number as both Tyrone and Donegal (whom they will face in the following two games after this weekend ), a loss on Sunday would see Kildare pull level with Mayo in the table heading into the final couple of rounds and make Mayo’s escape from the drop zone even more difficult.
Donegal and Tyrone are facing each other this weekend and if Mayo can pick up a win on Sunday, it will see them leap frog at least one of those teams in the standings and move them out of the bottom two before their final two games.