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The Mayo ladies senior football team will make the trip to Blackhill on Sunday to take on Monaghan in a top of the table clash against the ladies from the Farney county. Both sides are locked on nine points from their four games so far thanks to three wins from their four games, also on nine points in the table at the moment are defending All Ireland champions Cork.
Mayo picked up their second win in this years National Football League on Sunday in Elverys MacHale Park, when they saw off Monaghan in an ill disciplined affair that saw two Monaghan players sent off, along two black cards being issued by referee Rory Hickey in a contest that was punctured by numerous scuffles off the ball. In truth Hickey seemed to lose control of the game early in the second half as fracas broke out all over the field.
The last time Mayo faced Monaghan in the National Football League was four years ago, they lost out to the Ulster men by two points in the village of Inniskeen. Mayo’s visit back then to the home of Patrick Kavanagh gave them plenty of food for thought and set them off on an adventure that would see them reach two All Ireland finals and two All Ireland semi-finals over the next four summers.
There is one thing for sure about Sunday’s National League game against Tyrone and that is Mayo will not be underestimating the challenge facing them when Tyrone come to town.
Mayo picked up their second win in the 2015 Hastings Cup in a windswept Ballina on Saturday afternoon. Niall Heffernan made six changes to the side that started against Westmeath the previous week in Tubberclair, with Kevin Lynch, Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane, Adam Gallagher, James Quinn and Aidan O'Sullivan all given their chance to impress. Both Coen and Gallagher came back into the u21 side after lining out for the Mayo senior team last weekend against NUIG.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, Mayo were the dominant force in ladies’ football, winning all before and behind them. While Mayo slipped down the pecking order over the past decade, Cork stepped up and grabbed the top spot in the pecking order and have remained there more or less ever since.
Mayo will face a familiar foe on Sunday when they renew their acquaintance with Monaghan in the Tesco Homegrown National Football League division one semi-final. The girls from the Farney county are going into the game with a 100 per cent record from their seven league games so far this season, which includes a win over Mayo back in March in Aughnamullen where they came out 1-15 to 2-6 winners in a re-fixed game from earlier in the spring.
Both the Mayo senior football team and hurlers will finish up their league campaign’s with trips to Monaghan on Sunday afternoon. Last Sunday’s win by the footballers over Cork ensured their division one status for next year, while on Saturday the hurlers saw off the challenge of Sligo to keep their 100 per cent record intact. However anyone who hoped to travel to the Farney county and catch a double header of football and hurling action between the two counties will unable to do so, with the hurling team who have already booked their place in the division 3B final playing in Clones at 2.30pm and the footballers playing in Inniskeen, 40 miles away at the same time. All games in both the national hurling and football leagues will be throwing in at the same time on Sunday across all the divisions, the reason being that no team in any division will have an advantage knowing results that may affect them beforehand.
A weekend that promised a lot delivered very little for Mayo football followers, apart from more questions. On Saturday a very fancied u21 team went into battle against Roscommon in McHale Park in the preliminary round of the Connacht championship and were dumped out of the competition at the first hurdle. On paper Mayo had a team full of players who would have had designs on at least a Connacht title if not more. But when it came to the crunch, too many players did not show up and they were just passengers on they day when Roscommon won out by 0-11 to 0-9 in Castlebar.
Those in charge of setting the fixture list for division one of next years National Football League must see an end in sight for the log running planning dispute surrounding the redevelopment of McHale Park. The official fixture list for the league has Mayo pencilled in to open their account in the league at home to All Ireland finalists Down on Saturday February 5.