Nothing minor about tonight

GAA: Casey's Call

On the way: Diarmuid Duffy and David Dolan celebrate after Mayo's win over Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final. Photo: Sportsfile.

On the way: Diarmuid Duffy and David Dolan celebrate after Mayo's win over Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final. Photo: Sportsfile.

The Mayo minors take centre stage this weekend as they take on Galway in the All-Ireland final on Friday evening in Hyde Park Roscommon, throw in at 7.15pm.

As much as you would like our future stars to get a run out on the hallowed turf of Croke Park, playing the game in “The Hyde” is a much more viable option for families of players and supporters alike who don't have the burden and excess expenditure of travelling to Dublin.

It should attract a huge Mayo support. Last weekend's All-Ireland minor final between Offaly and Tipperary that Tipp snatched with a late goal, attracted a crowd of over twenty thousand, which is phenomenal in its own right. I can only presume Galway folk will not be too happy however with the minors playing in Roscommon on Friday and the seniors in Croke Park on Saturday.

I'm still undecided at this late stage whether or not it's a good thing or a bad thing that Mayo have already beaten Galway twice in this year's championship - and beaten them comprehensively at that. Back in mid May, Mayo gave them a good trimming in Tuam, winning by 1-15 to 0-4, and then in the Connacht final it was a little closer, as Mayo triumphed on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-7. In that provincial decider, Mayo were always comfortable and never in danger of losing.

Galway can count themselves somewhat fortunate to be in this final as not only have they lost twice to Mayo, Leitrim also defeated them in the Connacht championship on a score 3-08 to 0-12. The restructuring of the provincial minor championship and All Ireland Quarter-Final spot for all sides who reach their provincial finals, has certainly benefited them.

It doesn't make sense to me that you can lose three times and yet you could still be crowned All-Ireland champions. I can only hope the confidence of those earlier victories for Mayo over the Tribesmen comes to fruition in Hyde Park and Mayo play with the flair that they have shown right throughout this campaign.

Manager Sean Deane has emphasised that the quality throughout his team is what has set them apart and that they don't rely on any one individual to get them over the line on any given day. This was very much the case in the semi final against Kerry, where chief score-getter, Niall Hurley, was tied up from an over-defensive Kerry formation.

Ronan Clarke stepped up in that semi final with a crucial goal. Clarke has more than shown he is capable of doing serious damage to any team.

Sean Deane will be hoping Hurley and Clarke find the form on Friday that they displayed in the quarter final win over Kildare where they scored 3-10 out of their team's 3-18 total between them.

Mayo are a solid unit all over the field, it would be an absolute travesty if Galway turned them over, with Mayo having already beaten them twice.

Complacency doesn't come into it in a final, I can only imagine that is the message being hammered home this week at Mayo training.

Hopefully the Tommy Markham cup will reside in Mayo for the first time in nine years. In 2013 Stephen Coen lifted the cup after defeating Tyrone by 2-13 to 1-13 in the final. The county needs a lift after the disappointing loss against Kerry in the senior quarter final.

Race to replace Horan

Michael Solan has emerged as the unbackable favourite to replace James Horan as the Mayo senior football manager, probably purely based on the fact that he wasn't named as part of Andy Moran's back room team in Leitrim. I can presume it's not a foregone conclusion just yet as Knockmore Manager Ray Dempsey, u20 manager Maurice Sheridan and more recently former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy, have all been touted for the post.

The big shows in Dublin this weekend

Two belters of All-Ireland senior semi finals should be in store for us this weekend. First up on Saturday, it's Derry against Galway, in what should be a fascinating contest.

It's 2018 since Galway last played a semi final - when they went down to Dublin by nine points. Only five of the 21 players that played that game against the Dubs are involved this weekend for the Tribesmen. That's a fair overhaul Padraig Joyce has overseen. If omens and past meetings are anything to go by, it should be a good weekend for Galway.

When they won the Sam Maguire in 1998 and 2001 it was Derry they defeated in both semi finals. This will be an intriguing spectacle which could go to the wire. Would Galway supporters be able to deal with more penalties?

The second semi final between Kerry and Dublin is the game everyone has been waiting for. Anyone foolish enough to think this Dublin team were a done ticket after losing to Mayo in last year's semi final and getting relegated to division two this year, better think again. What’s intriguing is the bookmakers have both games more or less evenly priced, with Derry and Kerry slight favourites to progress. However, I think the opposite will happen and we are going to have a Dublin and Galway All-Ireland final.


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