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Mayo’s fate in their own hands

Sport

A DIFFERENT VIEW Some Mayo subs, along with S&C coach Conor Finn, are pictured sitting in the stand at Tuam Stadium during last Sunday's National League game against Galway which was played behind closed doors. Pic: Conor McKeown

Preview

Mike Finnerty

ASSUMING next Sunday’s National League game between Mayo and Tyrone actually goes ahead at MacHale Park in Castlebar, things couldn’t be more straightforward.
If Mayo win they will retain their Division 1 status for 2021. A draw might even be enough if Monaghan fail to beat Meath. However, a win would guarantee Mayo safety in the top flight for a 24th successive year.
A defeat and James Horan’s side will tumble into Division 2 and the memories of last Sunday’s exhilarating victory over Galway in Tuam will be consigned to the realm of forgotten things.
Things are made slightly more complicated by the fact that Tyrone are also living dangerously on the cusp of the relegation zone, sitting precariously just a point above Mayo and Monaghan. Wins for both Mayo and Monaghan next weekend and it will be Mickey Harte’s men who are relegated to the second tier along with Meath for next season.
Mayo have been installed as warm favourites to pick up where they left off against Galway last Sunday, shooting 2-17 in a sensational first half display and running out 15 points winners. That margin of victory meant that Mayo’s poor scoring difference on Sunday morning of -15 had moved to zero by that evening.
Tyrone came out on the wrong side of a 0-10 to 2-13 scoreline when the teams met in February of last year in Omagh, and the Red Hands were also turned over by Donegal in Ballybofey last Sunday, losing out by 2-17 to 2-13.
However, they trounced Mayo on their last visit to Castlebar in the spring of 2018, running out 12 points winners and the empty stand and terraces certainly won’t hold any fear for the 2018 All-Ireland finalists.
“We had hoped to get something out of the game to secure our Division One position,” Mickey Harte, who is in his 18th season managing Tyrone, said last Sunday in Ballybofey.
“We didn’t do that now and we have to go to Castlebar next weekend to play Mayo and hope to get something out of that game.After what they were at today it doesn’t sound like that will be an easy task. But it’s what we have to do. It’s our last game and we need to get something out of it to survive in the Division, and we’ll have to go after it.”
James Horan is unlikely to make too many changes to a winning team, especially with so much at stake in terms of survival in Division 1.
However, with the Connacht championship scheduled to get underway for Mayo on Sunday week next away to Leitrim, Horan will be keen to get some minutes into the legs of the likes of Keith Higgins and Chris Barrett, who were both unused substitutes in Tuam, while Kevin McLoughlin is expected to return to the match-day squad next weekend.
However, The Mayo News has confirmed that Jason Doherty has sustained a ruptured ACL in his left knee and will be out of action until next year.
Brendan Harrison’s participation in the championship also seems unlikely.
In a sign of the times, Leitrim were forced to concede their National League Division 3 game to Down last Saturday as they didn’t have enough players to travel due to Covid-19 related issues. However, Terry Hyland’s men will be hoping to field against Tipperary next Sunday in their final Division 3 league game.
Right now though Mayo have their own worries with Tyrone the only team on their minds.

Fixture

National League
Mayo v Tyrone
Sunday, October 25
Castlebar at 2pm

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