It's a simple task for Mayo on Sunday: win the game and book their place in the last eight of this season's Oscar Traynor Cup; while for Galway all they need is a point to reach their the last eight.
Galway saw off the Inishowen league in their opening game of the competition while Mayo could only manage a draw against the same opposition a fortnight ago. This will be Mayo manager Declan Kilkelly's second year in charge of the side and after missing out on making the knock-out stages of the competition last year, he will be keen to make the breakthrough this season, but as often happens in this competition difficulties arise.
“I don't know what team I will be able to put out on Sunday until Saturday evening I would say. Mick Duffy and Stevie Ryan are out for definite, while we have about six more who are doubtful or very doubtful at this stage, but we can only play with the players we have,” Kilkelly told the Mayo Advertiser earlier this week.
With the Mayo League over for a while and a handful of clubs still involved in the FAI Junior Cup and Connacht Cups, getting players together is always difficult. “As I always said, ideally I would love to have this side for training twice a week, but that's never going to happen when we have players with commitments and clubs preparing for the Junior Cup which is a big competition for all the clubs in Mayo.”
With the Galway League only needing a point to get through if they come to Milebush, and if they decide to sit back and try to soak up the pressure, Kilkelly hopes that his side will be able to pick them off. “It's a dangerous game for any side to try and play but it's an easy trap for a team to fall into once you get on the field. If they do, then it will give us a great chance to go at them. But no matter what way they go about the game we’re going out there to win the game and put our best foot forward from kick-off.”
With David Cameron another who will miss the game through a prior commitment it will allow Snugboro United's Stevie Gavin slip into the midfield and the former League of Ireland man is a more than adequate replacement for the Westport star. Andy Neary and Danny Scahill are two of the main injury doubts and if they don't make it it will leave a large hole for Kilkelly to fill on Sunday. He will be looking to the likes of Brendan Nallen from Iorras Aontaithe or Ballina Town's Eugene Gorman would be likely to come into the midfield, and Castlebar Celtic's Sean McHale could also be an option in the middle or upfront. Mick Duffy's absence from the side has shorn Mayo of a proven goal-scorer and a fantastic frontman, but Ronan O'Boyle or Alan McDonnell are options to partner Westport United's main man Dessie O'Malley up front in this must-win game on Sunday.
Galway will come to Milebush with an experienced side full of top quality players, the likes of Athenry trio Seamie Crowe, Benny Lawless and Jamie O'Driscoll will cause plenty of problems for Mayo. Their front two of Brian Mannion and Corrib Rangers’ Galway League top scorer Connor Cleary will pose problems for the Mayo back four. Last season Galway saw off Mayo's challenge by 2-0. Mayo know that a similar scoreline will see them eliminated from the competition, but even with the large injury crisis that has enveloped the side, home advantage could swing it in Mayo and Kilkelly's favour and see them playing football in the competition in the new year.
Good weekend for Mayo sides in Connacht Cup
Last weekend in the third round of the Connacht Cup was a good one for the Mayo sides in the competition.
Eight Mayo sides got through to the fourth round of the competition out of 14 games. Castlebar Celtic saw off Claremorris easily by a scoreline of 5-1 in Celtic Park, setting them up for a crack at a potential ninth Connacht Cup. Super League champions Westport United were awarded a walk-over against Inver United after the north Mayo men pulled out of the competition on the morning of the game. An Andy Leadbetter hattrick saw Kiltimagh/Knock United see off the challenge of Arrow Harps by 3-1, while Iorras Aontaithe came out on the right side of a five-goal thriller against Straide Celtic in their clash. Manulla saw off the challenge of Calry Bohs by 2-1 with Dessie Campbell and Damien Coleman scoring the goals. The shock winners of the day were Partry Athletic, who saw off Galway Bohs 2-0 in Partry to book their place in the last 32 of the competition. Snugboro United were the big winners of the day, rattling five past Skyvally Rovers in Conway Park.