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Time to book our place

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Time to book our place

Edwin McGreal

WE know the road well at this stage. Mayo and Croke Park need no introduction. We have been up at HQ more times than we would care to remember. We’ve had far more than our fair share of hearbreak at the Dublin 3 venue.
Now in the latest instalment of our Croker odyssey, Laois await. What chances another damned, dirty weekend in Dublin with us shuffling back down the Clonliffe Road with our heads bowed?
Slim enough for a change. Mayo can enter Croke Park as, at worst, dead even with Laois. Injuries are clearing up nicely, the mood among the squad would seem to be ever improving after the Connacht Final success and all in all there is every reason to ponder a stay in Dublin longer than the Laois game.
Naturally Mickey Moran will be the first man to dispel any notions of looking past the Laois game but with this year’s All-Ireland being one of the most open in years, Mayo folk are beginning to speculate.
Moran has eyes for this game only and rounds on critics of Mayo.
“The only thing that matters is Laois and it would be a cardinal sin to look beyond that,” said Moran on his way to training on Monday morning. “Going by everyone else there is no point in us even turning up. The experts say there is no sense in us even turning up but I can tell you now that myself and John wouldn’t be just outside Bundoran on a Bank Holiday Monday morning halfway through a 308-mile round trip just to go through the motions in Croke Park, to put up a good show and to get the sympathy of everyone. We’re going there to win. We didn’t take the job in November for any other reason,” added Moran defiantly.
Croke Park is a well-known stomping ground for Mayo and Moran was determined that this game be played there. He has plenty of experience there too having managed Derry and Donegal there in advanced stages of the championship in recent years.
“The game simply had to be in Croke Park. That’s what players look forward to and management as well. We’re no different. But the job has to be done on the day, we have to perform to the best of our ability. We’re (Moran and John Morrison) familiar with it but it’s always nice to go up there, it’s what you aspire to.”
By virtue of the fact that Dublin should have garnered a result against Westmeath by the time Mayo line out against Laois, there will only be five teams left in the championship when the ball is thrown in on Sunday. Mickey Moran will not admit to having even looked one inch past the Laois game but a part of him will be secretly relieved that firstly Tyrone and now Armagh are out the championship.
Dublin and Kerry constitute big hurdles but the Laois obstacle is one Mayo have to clear if they are to call this season a success. Will it be another unfulfilled weekend in Croker? No, something more substantial.


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