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They have been there and done it three times in the past decade, while we are still waiting to do it for the first time in over 60 years, and on Sunday in Croke Park the Mayo juggernaught will collide with the Tyrone colossus for a place in the All Ireland final in four weeks’ time. Mayo have breezed through Connacht and swatted aside the challenge of the reining All Ireland champions en route to this showdown, while Tyrone have taken the scenic route that has taken them from defeat in May in Ballybofey, on to Tullamore, Roscommon, Newbridge, and Croke Park to get to the semi-final. James Horan named an unchanged side from the one that beat Donegal in the quarter-final on Thursday afternoon, with Tom Cunniffe getting the nod despite limping out of the Donegal game.
The league is a bit of a curate’s egg of a competition for a lot of teams, and for Mayo it’s no different. A necessity to get out of the way ahead of the proper stuff come summer time, but then an opportunity to blood new players and to get some momentum built up ahead of that self same summer of championship action. For Mayo the league so far has had those essential elements of the aforementioned curate’s egg of being partially bad and partially good. The good has been in the last two games, beating Donegal and Cork, to not only maintain their division one status but to book a unexpected place in the last four of the competition and a semi-final on Sunday against Dublin. The bad has been the defeats to Tyrone, Down, Dublin, and Kildare in the middle four games of the competition, and not taking advantage of situations such as having a man advantage against Dublin in Croke Park.
While Kevin Reidy has full faith in his side before Saturday evening’s All-Ireland semi-final, the Galway native is still a realist and knows his side face a huge task if they are going to make it to the All-Ireland final. “Look, you could ask 100 people about the game and 99 wouldn’t give us a chance, but can you really blame them going on the past few years? But that’s of no concern for us, all we’re thinking about is going out there and putting in a big performance and trying to win the game.”