Mayo will make the long round trip to Newry on Saturday night looking to take home two points from the second of their triple header of Saturday night games on the run. The two points will be vital in Mayo’s quest to keep their heads above the pack as the league turns into its final four game stand from Saturday night on.
Last Saturday night’s loss to Dublin will have provided plenty of food for thought for James Horan and his backroom team, who saw their side unable to hold on to a two point lead when Dublin were reduced to 14 men early in the second half.
Horan shuffled the deck for last week’s game, with Kenneth O’Malley, Barry Moran, and Jason Gibbons all coming into the starting line up. The Ballinrobe shot stopper did well over the 70 minutes, saving a penalty from Stephen Cluxton and saving smartly from Ger Brennan, and his kickouts were generally good.
Worryingly for Mayo though was the fact they played in patches and saw Dublin go on two major scoring runs without replying. In the first half, Dublin hit Mayo for 1-5 without reply from the 20th to 32nd minutes and in the second half the Metropolitans went on a unbroken scoring run of 1-4 from the 49th to the 58th minutes, those two bursts contributed all but five points of Dublin’s total over the 70 minutes. The game was played at a break-neck pace at times and Dublin looked to be a bit ahead of Mayo in the conditioning side of things at this stage of the year, but it is still only very early days. Dublin played smart and to their strengths, isolating Bernard Brogan and Paddy Andrews inside, and Mayo’s full back line struggled greatly to cope with the duo, with Brogan in particular having one of those games where he was unstoppable as his personal tally of 1-10 showed at the end of the day. Dublin scored two goals, but could have had half a dozen easily with Kevin McManamon blowing a chance in the first half, along with another in the second before he eventually got his side’s second goal and Stephen Cluxton missed a penalty, while Mayo did not threaten to bag a three pointer until the dying embers of the contest when only a goal would do to bring them back into it.
As for this Saturday’s encounter, the Mourne men are currently winless in second last place in the table, ahead of bottom placed Kerry on scoring difference. They lost out on what looked like two points last Sunday, when Cork grabbed a dramatic 3-12 to 1-17 win thanks to a last gasp Ciarán Sheehan goal. In their first two games, they were seen off by both Tyrone and Donegal and look like favourites to end up in the relegation battle at the end of the league.
The sides last met in Croke Park last August when Mayo ran riot running out 3-18 to 2-9 winners over the beaten Ulster finalists. Davitts’ Michael Conroy and Jason Doherty were the men to grab the goals that day and both men have been leading the line for Mayo so far this season. Throw in at Páirc Esler in Newry on Saturday night is at 7pm.