Mayo’s loss to Down tonight in Newry ensures that they are embroiled in a relegation battle in Division 1. Down are now level on points with Mayo, along with Cork and Donegal with Kerry yet to pick up a point. Whatever way the results go tomorrow Mayo will be on the same number of points as the team occupying seventh place, the results tomorrow will determine how many teams that is. Wins for Donegal and Cork would leave Mayo in the relegation position, by virtue of Down being ahead of Mayo on head to head.
Mayo’s priority in terms of the league will be to survive in Division 1 first and foremost. But they will be no more than 2 points of the last semi final place at the end of play tomorrow and if Kerry beat Donegal and Tyrone beat Cork then Mayo will still hold that 4th place.
Down beating Mayo has really tightened up the bottom of the table and it makes for some interesting games in the upcoming weeks. A Mayo win tonight would have all but guaranteed survival for another season in Division 1, but now they will be looking over their shoulder for the remainder of the league.
After an encouraging start in the opening day win against Kerry, Mayo have now lost 3 games in a row. James Horan will take encouragement from the fact that Mayo have been competitive in all of them and will be hoping that they can build on the positives shown in games so far. But going out of games for long periods will be a source of worry and concern for Mayo. Mayo lead by 4 points to 2 mid way through the first half but then allowed Down to shoot the next seven scores until they got their 5th point after 40 minutes. Going without scores for that long makes it extremely difficult to win games. Mayo also need to find more of a goal threat. They created 3 goal chances during the game but took points on all 3 occasions. Indeed, Mayo only have one goal scored after four games played in the league. This is something that James Horan will need to address going forward.
Next up for Mayo is Kildare in Castlebar. Despite Kildare being unbeaten, at the time of writing, Mayo should be confident of being able to beat the Lilywhites next weekend. This is a big test for Mayo, winning when they have to, and this type of game should replicate the do or die nature of football, the true test of any team. Mayo need to respond by performing and winning in front of the home crowd. If they can start winning next week it will push them up the table. They will still be in danger but also looking at the semi finals in this very tight division between the bottom 5 teams.
It will be an interesting few weeks for Mayo in the league as they are involved in relegation and semi finals contention. James Horan will settle for 5th of 6th and be content of another year in Division 1. His main concern is having his troops ready for battle in Salthill on May 19th when they will take on Galway. Nights like tonight will be forgotten if objectives are achieved in the Summer.