“It’s a cup competition in reality, you can’t afford to lose a game,” is how Mayo League manager Brendan Kenny sees Sunday’s game against the Roscommon side in the Oscar Traynor Trophy. Weather permitting, Kenny’s Mayo will host neighbours Roscommon on Sunday in Milebush Park at 2pm in their first game in this year’s Oscar Traynor Trophy. It will be the visitors’ second game in the competition this year after going down 3-1 to a Sligo/Leitrim side a few weeks ago, meaning it is do or die on Sunday for them.
With their opponents having to go all out for the win Kenny is expecting an open and exciting game of football on the day. “They’ll have to come at us from the off after losing first time out, they are a good side with a lot of quality players who are more than capable of taking the game to us. But our lads are more than able to take that challenge on and do what we have to win the game.” The weather has hampered Mayo’s preparations for the game, but they have had a few training sessions over the past few weeks and are hungry for the game to start, according to the man who led Ballina Town to the last two Super League triumphs. “We had a good session on Tuesday night on the Astroturf and a challenge game a few weeks ago against the Galway League side, ideally you’d like to have more games under you, but we can only do what we can. The fact that the Roscommon League have had a competitive game in the competition already, even though they lost will still be a bonus for them, because you can’t beat playing together to get things working on the field.”
Having lost out to Galway by a late goal last season and having lost a few players, Kenny and his coaches have looked all over the county to unearth new talent to make up his squad along with some old reliables. “We made a conscious decision after last year, and then losing a few players, that we would have a look everywhere for players, not just the Super League. We had a few sessions on Sundays to put the players through their paces, and we’ve got a nice spread from across the divisions. As far as we are concerned if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter what division or what team you play for.” Among the players named in his initial 22 man squad for the competition are Claremorris duo Danny Broderick and Brian Gallagher, along with the likes of Noel Butler (Conn Rangers ), John Durkan (Moy Villa ), and Daniel Burke (Ballyglass ), who were all plying their trade outside the top division of Mayo soccer this season. There is plenty of experience in the squad also with Westport United providing five players including Joe Lawless, Danny Scahill, and Martin Geraghty. Indeed Kenny’s own Ballina Town side have seven players in the squad with Brendan Lavelle, Mick Duffy, and Tom O’Connor three stand out players from the Super League Champions in line for action on Sunday. Iorras Aontaithe who were in the title race for the Super League right up to the final turn are represented in the squad by the duo of Brendan Nallen and David Reilly.
Kenny does have a few injury problems going into the game with Garry Goggins (Fahy Rovers ) missing the game because he is away, and Ballina Town’s Tom O’Connor a major doubt, while Emmett Payton, who was coming back from injury, suffered a setback. With the weather promised to turn cold and snowy again over the weekend, Kenny is hoping the game goes ahead. “We are going on the proviso that the game is on and will be until we hear otherwise.” Having trained on the Astroturf in the lead up to the game, he hopes the pitch is playable for Sunday. “The Astroturf is a great facility and it’s great to have been able to train on it, but you always want to get out there and play on the grass.”
Sunday’s game promises to be a great encounter and the action gets under way at 2pm in Milebush Park.