Mayo head back to headquarters

Leaping for glory: Ballina AC’s Harry West competes in the final of the u12 Boy’s Long Jump final at the Woodies DIY Juvenile Indoor Track and Field Championships. Photo: Sportsfile

Leaping for glory: Ballina AC’s Harry West competes in the final of the u12 Boy’s Long Jump final at the Woodies DIY Juvenile Indoor Track and Field Championships. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo face into their final two regulation games of the Allianz National Football League over the next two weekends. Whether they will extended that league run until at least the semi-final stage on April 13 and potentially the final on Sunday April 27 (a week before the open their championship campaign in New York ) will have a lot to do with how they get on tomorrow night against the Dubs. A win over the All Ireland champions would put them two points clear of the metropolitans and almost assure themselves of a spot in the last four, ahead of their final game at home to Derry in Elverys MacHale Park.

Mayo’s upward curve of results over the last three rounds of games, picking up wins over Kerry, Westmeath and tabletoppers Cork have them coming into the game in good form while the men from the capital have lost two of their last three games, at home to what at times looked like a rejuvenated Cork and away to an ever improving Derry side in Celtic Park in the last round.

While the most recent meeting of the sides is still fresh in the minds, there’s a world of difference between All Ireland final day and the group stages of the National League this is the second time in a row Mayo have made the trip year to meet Dublin in the group stages league, losing last years meeting 2-14 to 0-16, before going on to be beaten by the same opposition again in the semi-final of the competition last April.

Going into tomorrow nights game, Horan will be able to call on the Castlebar Mitchels trio of Barry Moran, Tom Cunniffe and Richie Feeney for the first time in this years league after their commitments to Mitchels ended on St Patrick’s Day, all three returned to training last week while Andy Moran is also expected to be available for selection following missing out in the last two games due to a shoulder injury.

The return of Cunniffe in particular will give some extra defensive options for Horan as he looks to plug a few gaps that have seen Mayo concede ten goals in the league already. While Feeney’s all action style and ability to play across almost any line will be a additional bonus. Moran’s return will see the competition for spots in the middle of the park heat up with the two O’Shea’s, Jason Gibbons, Brian Gallagher and Tom Parsons already battling it out in that area, Moran also offers a viable option at full-forward where he has been latterly deployed by Castlebar Mitchels. Horan is steadily getting his squad fully back together after being without more than 20 potential options at the start of the league for a number of reasons.

Saturday night will give a number of those players another chance to put their hand up for a starting spot in the team come summer time and a chance to put to bed some old ghosts from the three most recent meetings with the Dubs in Croke Park. The game throws in at 7pm and is live on Setanta Sports television.

Ladies go to Kerry

The Mayo ladies senior team who are currently sitting in fourth place in the Tesco Homegrown Ladies NFL Division one table will make the long trek to take on second placed Kerry this Sunday at 2pm. So far this year, Mayo have picked up nine points thanks to their three wins from five games. But they face into a tough closing two games as they finish up the group stages of the league with the current table toppers Monaghan coming to visit after this weekends trip to the Kingdom.

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