It was only a matter of weeks ago that the curtain came down on the club scene in Mayo for 2012 and now on the second Sunday in January, the curtain is coming back up on the inter-county season for 2013. While the members of last year’s senior squad enjoyed their well deserved team holiday in Miami last week and the early part of this week, this Sunday in Ballinamore is going to be a very different experience from the sun and sand of South Beach.
Sunday will offer those hardy Mayo supporters who make the trek from January to season’s end a chance to run their eye over a few new faces that James Horan is sure to give a run out to, over what is a very hectic seven days for Mayo where they will play three games between this Sunday January 13 and Sunday January 20.
Sunday’s opponents Leitrim opened their season with a morale-boosting single point win over Roscommon in Elphin last Sunday. In a low scoring encounter, new Leitrim captain Emlyn Mulligan led his side to a 0-6 to 0-5 win over the Rossies. Of course Roscommon were operating without their St Brigid’s contingent who are in preparation of their All Ireland semi-final.
Following Sunday’s trip to Ballinamore, Mayo will entertain GMIT next Wednesday evening under the lights in Ballinrobe in their second game. Both sides met last year in the same venue, when Castlebar’s Danny Kirby grabbed the headlines with a four goal salvo to see off the students. Mayo will wrap up their seven day three game whistle-stop tour with the visit of Roscommon for the almost annual border battle in this competition in Ballyhaunis, with the home final of the competition pencilled in for the following Sunday. With 210 minutes of football to be played in such a short space of time, punters should expect plenty of players to get game time in the coming weeks, with a number of players tied up with their colleges such as Aidan O’Shea in the O’Byrne Cup in Leinster with DIT. The three college sides in the FBD League have also nominated seven players to play for them in the competition with Shane Nally, Cathal Freeman, and David Gavin all being nominated by NUIG, GMIT have nominated Mayo Gaels goalkeeper Paul Mannion, and Sligo IT have called upon Danny Geraghty, Kevin Keane, and Michael Forde for the duration of the competition.
Sunday will also be the first steps in Mayo moving into the post-Cian O’Neill era, the decision of the Kildare native to join up with Kerry will be a blow. But it should be compensated by the arrival of the highly rated Donie Buckley into the back room team.
Sunday, January 11
Leitrim v Mayo,
Throw in at 2pm
Wednesday, January 16
Mayo v GMIT
Throw in at 7pm