THE first game is always a big game in the league, but when it’s the neighbours coming to town, the magnitude increases.
Add in the fact that if Mayo struggle this spring like they did last year, this could be a crucial clash in the battle to stay up.
Roscommon, just promoted from Division 2, will see it that way too. While they enjoyed a very good league after promotion to Division 1 in 2016, they will be on most shortlists for going back down again.
If Mayo lose this one, then their own relegation worries will grow.
THE Breffni men are the other team just up from Division 2 and Mayo play them in round three. Were Mayo to beat Roscommon and Cavan, then relegation worries will ease greatly.
Lose either or both, however, and it is a different matter.
Mayo have traditionally been very slow starters in the league, due to a variety of reasons, including starting late after a long season the year before, and having so many Dublin-based players.
The latter issue hasn’t gone away, but Mayo’s lengthy lay-off since Newbridge last June should enable a much fresher team for the early stages of the league.
Winning the two games against the promoted sides will set them up well. However, recall Cavan came to Castlebar and won in 2017 while Roscommon will be seeking revenge for the All-Ireland quarter-final annihilation that August.
WITH away trips to Tyrone and, particularly, Dublin, representing tough journeys in search of points in rounds 2 and 4, Mayo will be hoping Round 5 can be a victorious one for many reasons.
Were Roscommon and Cavan to be dispatched, a win over Galway would push Mayo well towards safety. Were they entering this game in difficulty, a win would be vital to keep them in with a shout of avoiding relegation.
But add in the fact it’s Galway — who Mayo have not beaten since 2015 — and that heightens the importance of this local derby.
Defeat would not scupper Mayo’s chances of beating Galway if they meet in the championship, but beating them in the league would, at the very least, arrest a long run of failures at the hands of the Tribesmen.
Did you know?
MAYO have lost seven of their last 10 NFL games in Castlebar. Their last home win was against Donegal in March, 2017.