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It has come down to this, seventy minutes of football for Mayo to maintain their status as the Father of the House of division one football, or drop down to the second tier for the first time in over two decades.
Mayo left Salthill last Sunday, frustrated and annoyed and without any points to show for their efforts.
The shadow boxing and experimenting has come to a close, with the end of the FBD League last Sunday for Mayo. This weekend Mayo will make the trip to Clones in the reverse fixture of last year's National Football League opener which was won by the Farney county men in MacHale Park. The top division in the National Football League is a high intensity environment — Mayo want to hit the ground running and they will be targeting a win in this game.
With respect to the FBD league Mayo's season kicks off in earnest this Sunday when they travel to Clones to take on Monaghan in the first round of the National Football League. The FBD was somewhat of a calamitous affair this year with the weather playing puck with fixtures resulting in postponements and last minute cancellations. The decision to call off the Mayo v Galway game at the 11th hour the most frustrating postponement, as almost 3,000 spectators had gathered in Baltic conditions in Elverys MacHale Park. Most wondered why the decision was not made earlier. That re-fixture meant Mayo of course had to play three games in five days, two of which were lost while the other was a draw. Amazingly last weekend Mayo's game went ahead against Sligo albeit after a venue change. It was the only inter county game that took place last Sunday.
My grandfather John Francis Silke, who lived and farmed in Corrandulla, Co Galway, used to tell me when I was a youngster that as you get older the years really start to race by.
Keith Higgins will be another familiar face missing from Mayo’s opening league encounter against Monaghan next weekend, with the Ballyhaunis clubman yet to join up with the panel for the new season.
Mayo bookended their FBD League campaign by registering their first win of the new season against Sligo in James Stephens Park. But as Mayo manager Stephen Rochford said after the game; “That sort of performance won’t get you any points in Clones.”
Mayo's interest in the latter stages of the FBD League came to an end last Sunday when Roscommon ran out three point winners over Mayo in Hyde Park - winding up a run a hectic series of games for Mayo when they faced Leitrim, Galway, and Roscommon in a five day run. Speaking after the game on Sunday, Mayo manager Stephen Rochford felt the tight run of games did catch up with his side at the end: "Ahh…. well three games in five days will always catch up with you, especially at this time of year. But look, Roscommon were worthy winners and it’s disappointing that we didn’t stretch on in that final quarter and narrow the gap and to ask questions."
Holders Galway will face Roscommon in the FBD League final after a comfortable 3-6 to 0-8 win over Leitrim in Clonbur.
Robbie Hennelly’s injury time penalty save from Ciaran Murtagh was the last act in Mayo’s five day trilogy of games in the FBD League as Kevin McStay’s side ran out three point winners in a bitterly cold Hyde Park - as for the second time in three days, Mayo failed to take advantage of their opponents having a man sent off.