SEE YOU SOON Kevin McStay and Padraic Joyce cross paths after Saturday’s game. Pic: Conor McKeown
SUNDAY, April 9 won’t be long coming around.
That’s the day that Mayo play Roscommon in the quarter-final of the Connacht championship in Castlebar. D-Day.
But before that — 11 weeks before that to be precise — both Kevin McStay and Davy Burke and their players have a chance to get a first ‘dry run’ out of the way when Mayo and the Rossies clash in the Connacht FBD League Final.
Inside the Air Dome in Bekan in January will be far removed from the championship cauldron of Castlebar in early summer, but that doesn’t make Friday evening’s game a worthless exercise.
“It’s a game that we’ll take on its merits,” McStay mused last Saturday evening after beating Galway. “It’s a game that’s there to be won. The FBD has been very good to us over the years, we get a great bounce out of it.
“We got over the line tonight and we move on now to Roscommon and, of course, there’s a provincial league cup up for grabs and we’ll be going for that.
“We’ve a big panel, whatever we put out, if they’ve a good attitude, of course they can be competitive. It’s game on game on game, and then it’s the league, and then it’s game on game and that’s just the nature of this season.”
Regardless of what happened last weekend though, and irrespective of what happens next Friday evening, Kevin McStay and company’s ‘total focus’ right now is on the National League.
That’s one of the reasons they took one Mayo squad to Westmeath last Saturday morning for a challenge match and an entirely different one togged in Bekan for the FBD game.
Time is of the essence with Galway coming to Castlebar on Saturday week, and it’s against that backdrop that Mayo will try to win the FBD League for the first time since 2012.
“The total focus always was the National League and trying to get off to a strong start,” explained McStay. “There’s a lot of tough opening games, and every one of them has to be attacked on their merits.
“We’re very satisfied with where we’re at, we’ve worked really hard to get ourselves ready for that. Our sense is that we’re physically in decent shape, and we just have to tidy up our football a bit now, and get a look at the full panel and see what we have.
“They’re all putting their hand up so I’m very pleased with that. There’s lots of lads out there chomping, trying to get a jersey, and that’s the biggest thing I’m taking away from it.”
He was also happy with Mayo’s ‘attitude’ and ‘energy’ last weekend, and had positive news on the progress being made by Tommy Conroy who has been out of action for 12 months now.
“He’s doing really well, he’s tipping away very nicely in training and our expectation is he’s going to be putting his hand up for selection very soon,” explained the manager.
By the sound of things, Conroy is part of a very long queue of players ‘putting their hands up’ for the Mayo XV and squad that will see some action in the weeks ahead.
McStay admitted as much.
“Lads have shown in the last two months that they’ve a really good attitude, they want to have a real crack with Mayo, and we’re up for that. We’re going to give them all a big shout and we’re going to tease it out very carefully. But it’s going to be hugely competitive.”
A lot like the rest of the season, starting on Friday evening.
FBD League Final
Mayo v Roscommon
Friday, January 21
Bekan at 7.30pm