There is one thing that is sure to get everyone talking ahead of Sunday's meeting with Armagh in McHale Park. That is the return of Billy Joe Padden to the home of Mayo GAA in the bright orange of the Ulster men for the first time since his move north of the border. But despite this sub plot there is only one item of business that Mayo manager James Horan will be looking to be taken care of, and that is getting two more points on the board. Sunday will see Mayo play their fourth game in this year’s Allianz Football League and move past the half way stage of the competition. If they manage to see off the challenge of the Armagh men it will move them up to five points in the table and be a major step in ensuring that come the early spring next year, Mayo will be dining at the top table of league football in 2012.
Sunday's opponents, who claimed the division two title in Croke Park last year on the same day that Mayo capitulated to Cork in the division one final, have one win from their three outings so far. Their solitary win came from a single point win over their neighbours Monaghan in the second round of the league, this win was sandwiched in between defeats to Dublin on the opening day and to Down in the last round. In their last game in the league when they lost out to the Mourne men, Armagh pushed their fellow Ulster men to the pin of their collars before the beaten All Ireland finalists finally saw them off by a solitary point at the end of 70 minutes.
Mayo for their part are coming into the game on the back of a comprehensive win over neighbours and annual rivals Galway in Tuam stadium a fortnight ago. Mayo's 2-14 to 0-12 win over Galway in that last game was spearheaded by Burrishoole's Jason Doherty who finished the day with 2-1 on his senior league debut for Mayo. Horan will have been pleased with the return to winning ways for Mayo after they managed to dominate long periods of the previous game against Kerry without converting them into scores. However the poor nature of the Galway challenge which failed to show up after half time is something that Horan will not be expecting to be repeated on Sunday when the Ulster men come to Castlebar. So far this season, Horan has given a number of players their chance to impress ahead of the championship come summer time. Players who will be looking to keep up their good performances if given the chance again on Sunday include goalkeeper Robert Hennelly, Castlebar Mitchels’ defender Richie Feeney, and Ballintubber's Cathal Hallinan. While Ronan McGarrity looks to be nailed down for one of the midfield berths, James Moran, Jason Gibbons, and James Kilcullen have all been given chances to impress. Other midfield options that could be used by Horan include Tom Parsons, while Seamus O'Shea is still recovering from injury. Doherty impressed the last day out there is a lot of competition with a large number of players all vying for selection for the six starting spots.
Sunday's game will throw in at 2.30pm and you can read a match report on the game on www.advertiser.ie/mayo on Sunday evening.