While Mayo were busy dispensing with the paltry challenge put up by Westmeath last Sunday, the flashbulbs were frantically popping in Bellaghy as the prodigal son of Kerry football, Tadhg Kennelly, made his return to the Gaelic fields of Ireland after his nine year excursion on the fields of Australian rules. Mayo will make the 300 mile round trip from home base in McHale Park to Tralee to take on a side which has seen off Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry in their last three games, and are brimful of confidence as they try to impress Jack O’Connor who has taken over the reins of the side for the second time this year.
John O’Mahony will be hoping that the five players who will also be taking part in the u21 game against Galway on Saturday will come through OK, as he already was forced to make a number of changes for last weekend’s game against Westmeath and will be still missing one or two of those who missed out. “I’d hope they would be back, with Ger Cafferkey it’s not a serious injury but we didn’t want to take any chances, Pat Harte would have been OK to go in there, but we decided to hold him so we could get another week’s training into him. Barry Moran’s injury was a bad hamstring pull and it could be a long one. Billy Joe Padden, maybe he’ll be back, it was a very bad dead leg he got in the challenge match and Alan Dillon will be fine, he could have almost started but the extra week will do him good.”
Speaking after the win over Westmeath, O’Mahony knew that it is going to be a tough ask to take the two points from Tralee. “It’s going to be an away game against Kerry, all we can do is throw everything at them and get a performance in. Kerry are going very well with Jack O’Connor now back, it is possible if it wasn’t a new manager they might not be going as well as they have huge focus on the league, we’ll give it a rattle and see what happens. We are up against it and you could say today somewise didn’t prepare us for next Sunday but we have the two points which we wanted.” Mayo are currently sitting midtable in the league thanks to their win and a draw, and another win should more or less secure their tenure in the top ranks of league football for 2009. While O’Mahony was happy with the win last weekend he knows the league is still a building block towards the championship. “There is an overall thing with the national league where the main focus still is to do as well as you can but also to get fellas to nail down places going into the championship. But at the end of the day we all still look at the table, there is a lot to be played in this league still and everyone is presuming that Dublin, Kerry, and Tyrone will beat us. But that’s no harm, people’s perceptions are hugely influential, what we have to try and do is to stop those perceptions creeping into players. It’s what you do in between those white lines that matters. Tyrone are being written about as a team that’s going to win a load more All Irelands, but we are above them in the table, and that doesn’t mean either that we are a better team than them.”