While Roscommon and Sligo face each other in the senior decider, traditional rivals Mayo and Galway get proceedings underway in the minor curtain raiser in McHale Park this Sunday. Both teams have had impressive runs to the final and as always with these age old rivals, winning could come down to a bounce of the ball or even a refereeing decision.
Having appeared in the last two All Ireland finals the bar is certainly high for new Mayo manager Tony Duffy and his management team. Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser just before going to press Duffy said he is not feeling any pressure, only a strong sense of satisfaction at getting a group of players to play with a high degree of skill, honesty, and endeavour. He is confident that if they react to this game the same as the last two they will get their reward on Sunday.
His thoughts on captain Cillian O Connor who is a doubt for Sunday with a dead leg are equally clear. Mr Duffy said he was more confident of O’Connor’s progress than earlier in the week and was more than hopeful he would line out on Sunday.
So where will the game be won or lost? Well, as always with young lads it will depend on how they react to big crowds and pressure. Hopefully Mayo’s last match against Leitrim in front of a near capacity crowd in Markievicz Park will help them in their exposure to big game atmospheres.
As to the Galway line-out, the Mayo manager described the team as strong in the middle of field, although with some injury worries there and in the half back line. Danny Kirby and Sean McGarry are well capable of holding their own in midfield but the Mayo half forwards will have to work hard to stop quality ball being delivered into Galway forwards Peadar O’Griofa and Shane Maughan, son of former Mayo stalwart Jimmy Maughan, who scored seven points in their semi final victory over Sligo.
The six Mayo backs will have to be vigilant to curb the Galway forward line on Sunday. However with Cillian O Connor, Fergal Durcan, and Darren Coen all members of last year’s panel we too have potential match winners.
Galway will be tough to beat but Mayo have improved in each game and if they step it up another notch on Sunday they may just have enough to make it three in a row.