It’s no harm that someone every now and again states the obvious. It can help to counter perception with reality. There seemed an overriding opinion among supporters of both teams departing Austin Stack Park on Saturday night that the sides were quite likely to renew acquaintances once both won their respective final round matches – Mayo have a home game against Monaghan to prepare for, Kerry a trip to Roscommon – but while the chances of the Kingdom not ending up in the Division 1 decider are remotely slim, even in the event of a surprise defeat to the Rossies, it’s possible that Mayo could pick up their fifth win of the campaign and still not qualify.
So when Chris Barrett says of the potential outcome to next Sunday’s home game against the Farney County that “we could be in the League final, we might not be,” he’s telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Currently on eight points, the same tally as Galway and two behind Kerry, a draw would secure James Horan’s team their spot in the final if Tyrone, sitting on seven points, happened to beat the Tribesmen in Omagh. And yet not even if Mayo were to beat Monaghan would that likely be good enough if Galway manage to beat the Red Hands because unless Kerry were somehow on the losing end of things against Roscommon, resulting in scoring differences to count at the top of the table, the head to head record would instead determine that Kevin Walsh’s Galway side finish ahead of Mayo in the standings.
Confused? You might as well do like Barrett and just focus on the next game, not the permutations. It’s exactly how Mayo approached Saturday’s match in Tralee, says the Belmullet man, and the approach paid off in spades.
“We were just really looking forward to coming down here. We’ve been working on a lot of things. We were disappointed at how we had finished out the game against Galway and I think we really learned from some aspects of that game where we had brought [the score] back to a point.
“It was pleasing to see that in similar conditions tonight, and where the game was again in the melting pot, we managed the ball a lot better and were a bit more composed on it and we created our chances better. So we were just looking forward to getting down here and showing what we’d done for the past two weeks in training.
“I think it’s always a great occasion down here in Kerry, especially on a Saturday night. And playing a very good team, I’m just glad that we played to something near our potential. That was pleasing to see,” Barrett explained.
The fine margins of Division 1 are such that prior to other results earlier in the afternoon, the threat of relegation still hung over Mayo yet just a few short hours later they had gotten themselves right back into the mix for qualification to the divisional final. It’s an exciting competition to play in, admits Chris Barrett.
“Very much so, you’re playing eight of the best teams in the country, week in, week out, so you’re going to see good games.
“In terms of the permutations, we didn’t really look at it too much. We were just focused on getting right those aspects of our game that we’ve been working on. If we had come down here and got a draw but played just as well, we’d probably have been just as happy. We’ll look at it the same next week. We’ll just concentrate on the game and whatever happens after that, we could be in the league final, we might not be.”