Wins are important in the league, they may not be the be all and end all of everything in inter county football, but they are important all the same. Not just to ensure that you’re playing against the very best next Spring in preparation for the championship in summer time, but to ensure that you have the right momentum going into that championship.
While Mayo don’t want to end up in division two next year, reversing the current momentum and ending the league on a positive footing six weeks out from their Salthill showdown with Galway will be key to ensuring they hit the ground running in the summer.
The first steps to that takes place on Sunday in McHale Park when Mayo are looking to stop a run of four defeats on the bounce turning into five, when none other than the All Ireland champions come to town, and it won’t get much easier a fortnight later when Mayo wrap up their league run with a long trip down south to Cork city to take on the rebels. As for Sunday’s opponents, it’s not like they’ve been having the best run of it themselves, they’ve only one more win than Mayo and any sort of Mayo win will push James Horan’s men ahead of them on the table if neither Down and Kerry pick up wins on Sunday. And if they do a four point win for Mayo will see them overhaul Donegal on points difference. But that’s only if they win.
Improved returns needed up front
Mayo have to improve on their shooting returns and kicking more than a dozen wides over the course of seventy minutes and dropping five kicks short into the keeper’s’ hands as they did last Saturday night isn’t going to see them pick up that win. Once again Mayo’s failings of taking goal chances when presenting themselves cost them dear as they could have killed off the game before half time if either Michael Conroy or Aidan O’Shea had taken their chances. Mayo’s free taking was dramatically poorer than needed last Saturday night with both Kevin McLoughlin and Jason Doherty off target too many times last Saturday night. The return of Cillian O’Connor to action is a welcome return, which would provide a solution for this issue. But both he and Evan Regan who kicked two long rang frees after taking over the duty at the start of the second half the last night are in action for the u21 team against Galway in the Connacht u21 championship semi-final on Saturday afternoon in Tuam and two games in two days may be to much for both. Especially for O’Connor whose only coming back to action following an shoulder injury last October.
Donegal have picked up their wins against Kerry, who Mayo have also beaten and Down, who Mayo should have beaten. They have been beaten by Kildare, Tyrone and Cork and will host Dublin in their final league game on the first weekend in April.
Championship start not long away
With Mayo eight weekends out from the start of the championship after this one, they will be putting their shoulders to the wheel on the training field at the moment and nothing means more to Mayo followers and footballers alike than championship football and with the memory of how close they came last year, they know they have the ability to challenge at the very top once again and it’s what they will be aiming for. But going into that championship on the back of a long run of defeats is something that they don’t want to be doing. Throw in for Sunday’s game is at 2.30pm in McHale Park.
Ladies look for win number three
The Mayo ladies senior footballers will be in action in round five of the Tesco Home-grown National Football League on Saturday afternoon. They will be hosting Cork who are currently sitting in second place in the league table in Fr Gibbons Park, Claremorris at 2pm. Mayo have picked up two wins from their four game so far beating both Tyrone and Donegal while losing to Monaghan and Laois. Mayo are currently sitting in fourth place in the table on six points with Laois and Cork three points in front of them on nine and Monaghan on top with 12 points thanks to their four wins from four.