Once in a while, it can be good to get things wrong. Not too often, but calling the result of Mayo's All Ireland minor quarter final against the defending All Ireland champions Tipperary at the start of the month was something that a lot of people called wrong. And were glad too. Tony Duffy's side put on a performance of class and determination in sweeping aside the Munster champions in Croke Park that day. It was as unexpected as it was refreshing, and exciting to see a Mayo side take to the turf in headquarters and play without any fear but total abandon and take to the game to a supposedly stronger side and put them to the sword. Their reward for that victory is a place in the All Ireland semi-final this Sunday against beaten Leinster finalists Meath for a place in next month’s All Ireland final.
The Royals booked their own place in the last four of the competition, by defeating Ulster champions Tyrone in their quarter final in Newry the day after Mayo saw off Tipperary. At the time of going to press, Mayo have not named their side for Sunday's showdown. The county board announced through its official Twitter account on Wednesday night it would be 10.30pm last night (Thursday ) when that announcement would be made.
The Royals have made one change to their starting 15 with Robert Burlingham starting in goal on Sunday for them. Burlingham came on in the quarter final win over Tyrone for the injured Jack Hannigan and holds on to his place for Sunday. They have also made a couple of positional switches with Shane McEntee and Padraic Harnan swapping centre half back and midfield berths, and Declan Smyth moving to corner back and Conor Carton out to wing back.
Mayo had a number of impressive performers the last day out who will have to be on the top of their game on Sunday if Mayo are to progress. Patrick Durcan was one of those players who caught the eye against Tipperary. The half back was as much a threat charging up the field as he was impressive in his main duties in defence, and finished off the 60 minutes with two points to his name. James Quinn was another who took the game by the scruff of the neck and the jinking Ballinrobe man was on fire scoring three points, one of them in front of the hill was a particularly spectacular effort.
Connacht final saviour
While their Connacht final performance was not the best, one man kept them in it that day, their captain Adam Gallagher the Mayo Gaels midfielder kept that performance level up and pushed it on further in the quarter final against Tipperary. He will have to up it again the next day, but the young Mayo captain has yet to be found personally wanting in this championship run. However there are reports that Mayo will be sweating on the fitness of his club-mate Kevin Lynch ahead of Sunday's game. Lynch's rampaging style has also been one of the highlights of Mayo's three games so far in the championship and if he does not make the cut for Sunday it will put a serious dent in the side’s chances of making the final showdown.
Mayo's quarter final win over Tipperary showed how completely unpredictable the minor grade can be at times and Tony Duffy and his back-room team know that too well. They will have their charges as well prepared as they can for the big day in two days time, but with minors sometimes you just do not know which side will show up on the day.
Mayo v Meath,
All Ireland MFC semi-final
Croke Park, Dublin
Sunday, August 26 at 1.30pm.