Mayo take on Leitrim on Sunday for the right to play in the 2021 Connacht senior football final.
As far as contests go, this again will be a non-event as Leitrim will offer little or no resistance to prevent Mayo from making it to the July 25 decider against our old traditional rivals, Galway.
To put things into perspective and get some kind of idea of what Mayo are up against – Leitrim finished bottom of Division 4 North, losing to Antrim, Louth and Sligo. Sligo defeated them by 2-19 to 0-18 and we know what Mayo inflicted on Sligo in the quarter final.
Leitrim are the only team that didn't have a promotion, relegation or shield semi final or final because of their league standing. They will be totally undercooked for Sunday's Semi final.
Contests of this nature will be no good for either team. Mayo's team selection will of course be something we eagerly await. James Horan can do as he pleases with his team and Mayo will still win the game comfortably.
No point in taking risks
Momentum will be the key word without taking any unnecessary risks. As much as you want to have players playing together that will take the field in a Connacht final, taking unnecessary risks with players for a game they will win regardless, is not a viable option.
Look at what happened in Donegal with Michael Murphy – Declan Bonner getting a bit of flak for risking Murphy for their game against Down, when he clearly hadn't made a full recovery. I suspect we won't have heard the end of that if Murphy misses more games and Donegal lose without him. There will be questions that need to be answered up there. I can only presume Murphy declared himself fully fit to his manager, who in turn, picked him to start.
Mayo are 1/500 to win the game, I don't ever remember seeing such one-sided odds before. If Mayo desire and the day is dry, this could easily and probably will be another 20-point drubbing. If conditions are poor I don't expect the margin to be that high, but still in double digits.
Galway grind it out
Galway qualified for their sixth successive Connacht Final after a very drab and dour affair against Roscommon in Hyde Park last Sunday. Conditions have to be taken into account for the poor encounter, they were as bad as bad gets. I don't recall seeing showers like I witnessed before and during that game.
Luckily, the worst of those showers occurred 30 minutes before throw-in but it left the pitch like a thawing ice rink. It led to one pundit remarking that should a similar monsoon arrive during the game, the ref would have no choice but to take the players off the pitch until it blew over. There was water streaming from the lights in the press box it was that bad.
Roscommon's over-cautious approach to this game made it a hard watch. They offered little in the line of expansive open play, pulling their entire team inside their 45 metre line every time Galway had possession, trying to frustrate the tribesmen. What makes things even more bizarre is that when the game was over as a contest, they pressed high up on the Galway kick-out and turned the ball over, creating a goal chance.
That was seven minutes into injury time. Why leave it so late? I can only imagine the frustration of the Rossie faithful who were there to witness it.
Word arrived to us in the press box just before throw-in that Shane Walsh may not feature, the Galway captain did play but worryingly, from a Galway perspective, he limped off in the 70th minute clutching his hamstring. Galway had a number of contenders for the man of the Match award. Matthew Tierney on his début received the official award but for me, corner back Sean Kelly was the main man.
He was a nightmare for Conor Cox, constantly raiding down the flanks. Two of those deep runs made by Kelly ended in the crucial goals that were scored that got Galway over the line. Kelly's younger brother Paul had a fine afternoon too, scoring 1-02 for himself; a fine contribution considering the testing conditions.
Dubs get a bit of a test - but Cluxton takes the headlines
Dublin were given their stiffest test in the Leinster championship in eight years, only beating Wexford by eight points. It's only the third time in eight years they failed to win a Leinster championship match by double digits. They defeated Meath by 0-7 in 2013 and Kildare by 0-9 in 2017.
The news that grabbed all the headlines after that game was the non-appearance of Stephen Cluxton and in turn, manager Dessie Farrell's uncertainty as to where Cluxton stands for 2021. It doesn't sound great coming from the well-oiled Dublin machine that the manager has no idea of whether one of his star pupils will play for him or not, considering the championship is up and running. Watch this space.
On the rise
I can't let this week pass without giving a mention to the Mayo LGFA u14 girls who got their championship off to a winning start with a comprehensive 11-14 to 2-04 win over Sligo. They got off to a shaky start in Sligo's centre of excellence, conceding 1-01 in the first minute, but thereafter, as the scoreline suggests, they completely dominated proceedings.
They have some real quality players and a management team to suit. Their next outing is against Leitrim next Monday in Knockmore. Good luck girls.