His imposing presence in the heart of the defence for his club Ballaghaderreen over the past number of years has seen David Drake earmarked as one of those who could add something to the Mayo set-up. The 24-year-old former Sligo IT and UCD Sigerson Cup player has been given that chance this year and he is looking to become the latest in a long line of men whose postal address may say Co Roscommon, but will bleed green and red on the football field rather than primrose and blue.
“It’s exciting, the rivalry isn’t as severe as it is in some sports, a lot of it’s tongue in cheek and friendly. But everyone’s very competitive, and come Monday morning you don’t want to be on the wrong end of the result and get a slagging from the lads on the other side,” Drake explained.
The quirks of having a club who play in Mayo based in Roscommon is one that gets plenty of talk in the media and on bar stools and at the sideline of football fields whenever the two sides meet in championship action and it does bring some buzz to the town. Drake went on to say: “There’s always a great buzz around the town when Mayo play Roscommon and it’s great to be part of all that. A large majority of our club would be Mayo followers and I can only think of around four guys on our team who would be avid Roscommon followers, but it’s a friendly rivalry and I know when ever Roscommon would be playing [someone else] we’d be supporting them and hopefully whenever we’re playing they’ll be supporting us. But on Sunday everyone will be shouting for their own.”
The wing-back has started four games for Mayo so far this year (three in the FBD League and one in the National Football League ) and made four substitute appearances (all in the National Football League ). One of those games he started was the last meeting between Mayo and Roscommon in the third round of the FBD League in Ballinlough, when the Rossies ran out 1-10 to 1-8 winners. He knows that John Evans’ side will have had Sunday’s date marked in the diary for a long number of months and will throw all they have at Mayo on Sunday. “Roscommon will feel that they can cause an upset and we can’t wait for that challenge. It’ll be fantastic and they’ve proven over the years that Hyde Park is a hard place to go to. There’s never too much between these teams and we’ll be expecting nothing less on Sunday.” As for the progress that Roscommon have been making over the last few years, Drake has been impressed. “They’re going very well and have shown a lot of progression, it’s going to be very tough for us and they love playing Mayo.”
Being a man from the border outpost, the Roscommon game is always a special one for him he explained. “I always consider it to be the big derby game in Connacht, but I’m sure someone in Shrule will tell you that the big one is Mayo v Galway. But there are a lot of rivalries around this place, we’ve Eastern Harps in Sligo just 10 minutes out the road too.”
As for the work-rate that is required at this level, Drake reckons he has adapted quite well to it. “I played two years Sigerson with Sligo IT and UCD, which is a step up from club football, so that gave me an indication of what’s required. But when I came in here, it was a step up again. It’s tough work, but it’s enjoyable and it’s a great environment where everyone is like minded and we all have one goal and everyone is pushing in the one direction. But it’s where you want to be.”