There is no backdoor for the Mayo minors to make a return if they fail to beat Galway tomorrow evening in Tuam in the semi-finals of the Connacht Minor Football Championship.
While the senior competition offers a second chance to those knocked out at any stage of the provincial championship, the only access to the backdoor in the Connacht Minor Football Championship is at the final stage, so it is all on the line in Tuam tomorrow evening.
Mayo go into the game as the defending All Ireland champions, and while their team is very different now from the one that took to the field last year in an epic battle with Galway in Hyde Park that went to extra time, en route to their All Ireland success, taking the scalp of the All Ireland champions will only add some extra fuel to the Galway fire, as if they needed any.
Mayo are once again under the guidance of Enda Gilvarry and his back room team, and he can still call on a clutch of last year’s All Ireland winners, with Seán Conlon, Cian Hanley, Matthew Ruane, Stephen Brennan, and Fionán Duffy all having winner’s medals in their back pockets from last autumn.
The Connacht Minor League played back in the spring didn not go that well, results wise, for Mayo. They picked up only one win from their five games, that being a threepoint win over Roscommon. But the most that Mayo lost any of those games by was two points, showing that they were not that far off the pace in the early season competition.
It was just two points that separated Mayo and Galway in March when John Donnellan’s team ran out 0-12 to 0-10 winners in Ballinrobe.
Since the league, Galway have got one game under their belts already in the championship with a comfortable 1-13 to 1-7 win over Sligo in Markievicz Park in the semi-final last Saturday.
Galway’s Peter Cooke, Michael Daly, and Colin Brady were all players who marked themselves out in that win, and going into the game tomorrow evening with a championship game under their belts is sure to be an advantage to the Tribesmen.
Home advantage could be a big advantage to Galway tomorrow evening, but if Gilvarry can get his players to have the same belief and desire they showed last year when they started slowly before making their way to ultimate glory, they will not fear anything that Galway will throw at them.
All in all, it promises to be a fascinating encounter in the famous old ground.