Mayo and NUIG meet in the FBD Insurance Football League Home Final at McHale Park on Friday night(7.30pm). The home side will be strong favourites to win and it will take a huge performance from the college if they are to cause an upset.
The hosts are unbeaten in the competition this season and despite having to withstand a late rally from Roscommon, they have never looked in serious danger in their campaign to date. The students would also have come into Friday’s decider with a perfect record but for disappointing against Sligo in their last outing. Both this weekend’s finalists take the league very seriously and also met in last season’s final. On that occasion the inter-county outfit were far too strong for their college opponents and ran out easy winners by 1-14 to 0-11. Layers are quoting James Horan’s side as 1-3 jollys to make it back to back titles and on paper it is difficult to envisage anything other than a comprehensive win.
Former Mayo boss John Maughan is in charge of NUIG this season and his influence on the side has been clearly in evidence to date. The students have impressed in each of their outings and had already qualified for then final when they suffered defeat at the hands of Sligo. In some ways it was probably a result that would have pleased Maughan, as it helps keep his charges in line and their feet on the ground. They will now go into this decider as huge underdogs and with nothing to lose. Mayo have been the team to beat in this competition in recent seasons but they have a tendency to buckle under pressure and if the college can hold their own for 50-55 minutes they may be able to force the county side to question themselves.
Mayo for their part, have plenty to prove this year. 2011 looked like being the turning point and an impressive All-Ireland qualifier victory over Cork left supporters believing that this may indeed finally be their year. However, in the finish it was once again nothing more than yet another false dawn as they wilted under pressure against Kerry in their next game. Horan’s men really need to win this competition and the Allianz Football League this season and face the championship with little to fear. They should at least succeed with the first part of the goal this weekend.