In any other league campaign Roscommon defeating Mayo wouldn't bother me. We could use the usual excuses like Mayo were tired after a long campaign last season, Mayo tried out new tactics and tried to blood players while trying others in different positions. We could all tell ourselves that the game was Roscommon's All- Ireland, why wouldn't they be up for it?
These excuses would be well and fine if we played Roscommon in round one or two of the league with only bragging rights on the line. Next Sunday's league game in Hyde Park is now Mayo's All-Ireland and losing could have drastic consequences for our league status and also for what happens later on in the year. The tired legs and delay in appointing Stephen Rochford are excuses no more. This is a must-win game as failure to beat Roscommon means our fate is not in our hands and it will also mean Roscommon will be ultra confident going into any further contest down the line, most likely a Connacht final in Castlebar, should Mayo get there. Some folk are still reluctant to give the Rossies' much credit for their achievements so far in their league campaign but victories away from home against heavyweights Kerry, Cork and Donegal should make everyone sit up and take note. The only blotch on their copy book is throwing away their first round match against Monaghan.
We should not forget, Roscommon were playing much further down the divisions only a few years ago so their rise is pretty impressive. I have no doubt Stephen Rochford would have been delighted welcoming back the Castlebar contingent, however I'm sure Rochford like myself was expecting them to be high in confidence with All-Ireland club medals in their back pockets which would have them in Hyde Park with their chests out and vital to Mayo's cause.
Castlebar feel the pain
Castlebar’s no show in that club final has left a little sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I couldn't bear to hear people mention about another Mayo team choking in Croke Park as I was leaving the stadium. I can only imagine how the players and management feel. Taking account of that, Patrick Durcan may be the only Castlebar player we see on Sunday as I'd say he is raring to go in a green and red jersey and will want to make up for missing the first five rounds of the league. It may take the others a little more time to get over the defeat to Ballyboden. On a more worrying note for clubs outside Dublin, some very well respected journalists who follow Dublin club football intently told me how remarkable it was that Ballyboden won the All-Ireland as they are the fifth best team in the capital and will most likely not retain their Dublin crown, never mind the All-Ireland. Mayo will need a much improved performance from the Kerry encounter where they struggled badly in the second half despite a numerical advantage. They will also need a decisive plan B in place should the long ball into Aidan O'Shea backfire. Kevin McStay will want to show the Mayo faithful what they have missed out on. Stephen Rochford will want to show the droves of Mayo Fans in Hyde Park that he was the correct man for the job. It's time for the real Mayo to please stand up.
U21s get back to winning ways
The Mayo u21s got their campaign off to a winning start when accounting for Leitrim in the semi final in Carrick on Shannon last weekend. The 4-12 to 0-15 scoreline suggests the forward division was moving in the right direction but shipping 0-15 against Leitrim is a bit of a worry. Let’s not forget this is the Mayo minor All Ireland winning team three years on. Where has the time gone? Brian Reape top scored with a very impressive 2-04. The much anticipated final against Roscommon is likely to be a belter. It’s hard to believe it's seven years since Mayo were in a Connacht final at this grade.
St Joseph's bring us plenty of joy
With all the hype and furore over the Mayo/Kerry game and Castlebar's club final last week I left no column inches for St Joseph's community College Charlestown's unbelievable victory in the Post Primary D All-Ireland final. It is a remarkable achievement for the town and parish considering the size of the school and the small quantity of player available. Huge credit to the players and manager, Brendan Prendergast of Tourmakeady fame. It's a while since I witnessed that winning feel good factor around the town. Well done everyone. All-Ireland champions has a lovely ring to it.