Not too long after the final whistle on Sunday evening, Mayo will be heading in one of three different directions. Leap-frogging Cork into the semi-final round of the league, retaining their division one status and their league season coming to an end on Sunday, or falling through the trap door and into division two of the league for the first time since the mid-nineties (the early part of the 2000s saw division one divided into two different sections ).
James Horan’s men currently sit in fifth position in the table, level on four points with Donegal and Kerry but ahead of both on scoring difference. Mayo have a scoring difference of plus two, Donegal in sixth place have a scoring difference of zero, while Kerry in seventh place have a scoring difference of minus 20 points. While Mayo will be making the long trip to Cork on Sunday afternoon, Kerry will also be hitting the road to Omagh to take on Tyrone, and Donegal will be welcoming Dublin to Ballybofey.
Injuries cost Mayo key men
Mayo’s hand for Sunday was dealt a blow on Sunday afternoon last when three minutes into Castlebar Mitchel’s league opener against Breaffy, Barry Moran had to be carried off the field injured. The big midfielder picked up the injury as he took a shot that came back off the post. Also not lining out for Castlebar Mitchels in that game was Tom Cunniffe who has appeared in all six of Mayo’s league games so far starting four and coming off the bench in two. The Mayo defence already has to cope without the services of Keith Higgins who had to be replaced in the second half of Mayo’s win over Donegal with a hamstring tweak so they will be hoping that Cunniffee sitting out the game was just a precaution. Reports early in the week also had Jason Doherty as an injury concern after he sat out Burrishoole’s opening league defeat against Bohola Moy Davitts. Mayo are still without the services of Andy Moran and Alan Dillon, while Dillon’s clubmate Danny Geraghty is also out of action for Mayo after tearing ankle ligaments in training recently.
Permutations and combinations
As for the permutations and combinations on Sunday, and there are quite a few possibilities, a win for Mayo would be the simplest result. A Mayo win will keep them in division one no matter what, as Cork have a poorer scoring difference than Mayo already (which would be used to separate the teams if more than two teams finish on the same points ), and if Mayo and Cork are the only sides to finish level on the same number of points, Mayo will jump ahead of them in the league table on head to head and go into the league semi-finals.
But a Mayo win combined with wins by both Donegal and Kerry or either one of them will see scoring difference come into play for the semi-final spot. With Donegal just behind Mayo by two points in the scoring difference charts the All Ireland champions could pick up the last four spot, Kerry are realistically out of the race for fourth place with a scoring difference of minus 20.
If Mayo lose, they will be hoping that both Donegal and Kerry do not win, then Mayo go down to division two. If Mayo loses and only one of those sides lose, Mayo will stay up on the head to head between both teams. But Down could pull level on four points with Mayo, Kerry and Donegal if those three sides lose and Down win, then it scoring difference would be used to decide who gets relegated, and with Kerry having minus 20 in their column and Down minus 19, it would take whole massive swing to see either Kerry or Down escaping from the bottom two. The simplest answer for Mayo is to win on Sunday and let the rest worry about themselves. If Mayo do pick up the win and make it to the league semi-finals they will head to Croke Park on Sunday week, April 14, and take on the first placed team in the table after Sunday, which will probably be either Tyrone or Dublin, with both sides level on 10 points on top of the table with Tyrone ahead of them on head to head.
Ladies look for semi-final spot
Its not just the men who will be looking to extend their league campaign on Sunday. Peter Clarke’s Mayo ladies’ side will be making the trip east on Sunday to Naomh Mearnog GAA grounds in Dublin to take on the Jackies for a place in the last four. Both sides are level on nine points from their six games with three wins and three draws each (The Ladies Gaelic Football Association, uses a three points for a win system, unlike the men’s which uses two points for a win ). Mayo are well ahead of Dublin on scoring difference with a difference of plus 23 compared to Dublin’s minus 28, so a draw would do them on Sunday to book their last four spot.
Last weekend Mayo picked up their third win seeing off bottom of the table Meath by a scoreline of 3-18 to 1-3 in the Royal county last Sunday. Cora Staunton was the leading marksman on the scoreboard kicking eight points with Deirdre Doherty chipping in with 1-4 and Fiona McHale scoring 1-2 and Aileen Gilroy contributing 1-1. If Mayo book their place in the semi-final they will be out again in last four action on Sunday April 28. So far this season Mayo have seen off all the bottom three sides in the division, while losing out to the top three sides.
Minors looking for second win
The Mayo minor team under the guidance of new manager Enda Gilvarry will go looking for their second win in this year’s Connacht Minor League this weekend. On Saturday evening in Ballyhaunis they will host Leitrim in their fourth game in the league. So far Mayo have beaten Roscommon, drawn with Longford, and lost to Galway. They will play their final game in the league on Saturday week, April 13 away to Sligo.