After a hiatus of a couple of weeks it is back to the cut and thrust of the National Football League for John O’Mahony and his charges this Sunday. Westmeath are making the trip to Charlestown for the all ticket encounter which has been limited to a capacity of 3,000 as Mayo continue to play their games away from McHale Park as redevelopment works continue apace in the Castlebar ground.
Last time out in the league Mayo pulled out a stirring second half comeback against Donegal to secure a point thanks to a last gasp Kieran Conroy point. O’Mahony rang the changes at half time in that contest to overturn a 2-8 to 0-5 deficit at the break to keep Donegal to just two points in the second half an a finish the contest 2-10 to 1-13 on the scoreboard. Barry Kelly, Mikey Sweeney, Pat Harte, Mark Ronaldson and Conroy all came on as substitutes in that game to lead the fightback.
However since that game Barry Moran, who scored 1-1 from full forward, was sidelined with injury which saw him miss DIT’s Sigerson Cup final. Also injured during Sigerson action was Ballina’s full back Ger Cafferkey, with his club mate Pat Harte also picking up a knee injury in training last Saturday week. Alan Dillon who limped out of the Donegal game with a back-cum-hamstring injury is also struggling as the game comes closer.
Mayo are currently sitting in fifth place in the table level on points with Donegal but ahead on points difference from the Ulster men, with this weekend’s opponents Westmeath, last year’s Division Two champions, rooted to the bottom of the table with no points from their opening two games and a points difference of -19. Tomas O’Flaharta’s side have struggled to adapt to life in the top tier of league football this season, but with attacking players of the calibre of Dessie Dolan (who is an injury doubt ) and Dennis Glennon they are sure to keep the Mayo defence on their toes over the 70 minutes.
Two points on Sunday will be a priority for John O’Mahony’s men who follow up this game with a three week run of games against Kerry away, Dublin at home, and away to Galway all before the end of the month. Their final game of the league will be at home to Tyrone on April 12 and O’Mahony and his players will be hoping to go into that game with the All Ireland champions having secured their division one status at least for 2010.
While Mayo have a number of injury problems to deal with, their visitors on Sunday are not running with a full panel either. Dessie Dolan is a doubt with a hamstring injury, while the likes of Dermot Bannon and David Duffy are both doubtful along with the definite absences of Martin Flanagan and Damien Healy. Westmeath have proved to be a tricky challenge for a number of sides in the last few years, most notably putting eventual All Ireland champions Tyrone to the pin of their collar last year in the All Ireland qualifier series in Healy Park, Omagh. Both sides have come face to face in
recent years with their last meeting in the National Football League in 2005 where Mayo ran out 3-16 to 1-8 winners in McHale Park, the previous year Mayo went down to the midlanders by 2-16 to 2-10 in Cusack Park in Ennis. By far the most famous meeting of the sides came in Hyde Park, Roscommon, in the All Ireland qualifier series in 2001, when a Mayo side reeling from a late defeat at the hands of Roscommon in the Connacht final went down to Westmeath by a point, 1-14 to 0-16 after extra time. There will be a full match report on the game on the Mayo Advertiser’s website from Sunday evening, you can find the website at www.advertiser.ie/mayo
Lots of action last weekend
Last weekend saw both the Mayo hurlers and the Mayo women pick up wins in their respective national league encounters, with the hurlers seeing off Wicklow by 2-15 to 0-16 in Arklow, and the woman beating Armagh by 0-12 to 0-8 away from home also. It also saw St Colman’s, Claremorris, see off St Gerald’s, Castlebar, in the Connacht Colleges A final and St Louis, Kiltimagh, lose out in their bid to claim the B crown. Full match reports of both colleges’ finals can be found on our website www.advertiser.ie/mayo