HAPPY HUNTING GROUND Mayo supporters celebrate a goal by Diarmuid O'Connor in the first half of last year's All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship Final win over Cork at Cusack Park, Ennis.
THE Mayo team to play Clare in Round 3A of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers on Saturday at 5pm will be named after training on Friday night.
The Mayo squad returned to collective training this evening (Wednesday) for the first time since last Saturday’s energy-sapping extra-time win over Derry.
Lee Keegan remains Stephen Rochford’s major injury concern but the Footballer of the Year is expected to have recovered from ‘a bang on the shin’ in time to line out against Clare.
Paddy Durcan will miss the game after being red-carded against Derry last weekend.
He is expected to receive a one-match suspension, not a 4-week ban as suggested by RTE pundit Ciaran Whelan, both after last Saturday’s match and again on The Sunday Game.
Parking in Ennis
ANY Mayo fans that have attended club or county matches at Cusack Park over the years will be well aware that parking in Ennis can be a huge problem.
The fact that Saturday is a very popular shopping day in the town is going to make things even more complicated for match-goers next weekend.
It’s worth bearing in mind too that dozens of Clare and Kilkenny fans who attended a National Hurling League game at Cusack Park back in February were ticketed by Gardai for illegal parking near the ground.
Credit to Clare County Council then for making free parking spaces available on Saturday from 10am to 8.30pm at their offices on the New Road for supporters attending the game.
Cusack Park capacity
NEXT Saturday’s match at Cusack Park in Ennis may not be sold out completely come throw-in time, but all the signs are that there won’t be much standing room either.
One GAA official told The Mayo News that he expects at least 8,000 Mayo fans to make the journey.
The capacity of the ground is understood to be just over 14,500.
Who gets to sit in the stand at Cusack Park is also going to be an issue by the sound of things; there are over 3,500 Mayo GAA season ticket holders and only approximately 1,200 seats in the Ennis stand.
Our advice? Get there early if you want to sit down!
News from the Clare camp
IT looks like Clare manager Colm Collins will have a full squad to pick from as everybody came through last weekend’s ten-point win over Laois unscathed.
That means Ballyhaunis footballer/hurler Eoghan Collins is almost certain to be included in their 26-man squad.
Clare have been installed as 4/1 outsiders to beat Mayo but their midfielder Cathal O’Connor certainly wasn’t quaking in his boots when he looked ahead to Round 3 after beating Laois.
“It doesn’t matter who we get,” he told The Clare People last Saturday. “If we can get anyone inside Cusack Park I think we could take them, no matter who it is we won’t be afraid of them.”
What happens next?
IF Mayo beat Clare on Saturday then they will qualify for Round 4A of the All-Ireland Qualifiers on Saturday, July 22.
Their opponents in that round will be either Cork or the beaten Connacht finalists, Galway or Roscommon - although 'repeat pairings would be avoided where feasible'.
Both of those Round 4A matches will be played at a neutral venue and are being shown live on Sky Sports.
If Mayo manage to get over that round, then they will be back in Croke Park for the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals on Sunday, July 30.
Their opponents in the last eight would be either Munster champions Kerry or the Connacht champions.
It’s also worth noting the caveat below from the GAA in relation to the All-Ireland quarter-final draw.
‘Draw is Subject to Provincial Final Winners avoiding defeated finalists from their own Province in this Round and to the avoidance of repeat pairings where possible.’
Of course, Mayo need to beat Clare first!