Your home ground is meant to be your fortress but Patrick Durcan has acknowledged Mayo haven’t experienced much in the way of home comforts at MacHale Park lately.
Mayo need to beat Donegal on Sunday to be sure of avoiding relegation and a return to Division 2 football for the first time since 1997.
The fact that they are at home in Castlebar should help their cause though their actual results there would suggest otherwise.
Mayo have lost two of their three league games in Castlebar this season which is in keeping with a torrid run of just three wins from 10 games at the venue across three league campaigns. In that same period, stretching back to the start of the 2015 campaign, Mayo have won double the amount of games on the road, six.
Throw in last summer’s shock Connacht championship defeat to Galway there and you could be forgiven for believing a hoodoo is developing among players like wing-back Durcan.
“I don’t know, our home form this year certainly hasn’t been good, one win from three, so we have to make it two from four on Sunday,” said Durcan.
“Donegal is going to be a tough challenge, they are unbeaten in five I think since the Kerry game so that is going to be a massive challenge. I wouldn’t feel any added pressure playing there, or playing anywhere for that matter. But we do have to start getting better there.”
Durcan, a Castlebar man, hasn’t sensed any particular dissent among Mayo fans at games. Likewise, he isn’t picking up on any negative vibes around the county regarding relegation and says the players haven’t even considered it.
“I haven’t contemplated it,” said Durcan who was just two when Mayo last played in Division 2 of the league in the 1996/1997 season.
“You are just so focused, the games are coming week by week and you haven’t time to look back on them. It is in our own hands, we would have nobody to blame (if we are relegated).
“We are a proud county,” said Durcan. “We would love to have been more consistent this year but we are where we are now. Every team sets out to be consistent at the start of the league but, to be honest, we haven’t been that. It is tough and competitive and everybody is fighting for points. I think the table reflects that. Every team seems to be really compact and close. We’re in this position now and we have to get a win on Sunday.”
It remains to be seen what response Cormac Reilly, the Meath man appointed to referee the game, gets from the Mayo supporters. He literally ran off the field at the Gaelic Grounds, flanked by gardai, after angering Mayo fans with a number of decisions during the county’s 2014 All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Kerry.
“It is not an issue for us,” said Durcan. “It is down to us whether we get the job done or not, there will be no outside influences like that (blamed). We are just going to focus on ourselves and hopefully get the job done.”
Durcan’s strong form as an attacking wing-back is a big plus heading into the repeat of the 2012 All-Ireland final. He scored two crucial points against Tyrone last time out, securing a win that has given them a fighting chance of staying up. Even as a 22-year-old at Croke Park last October, he took on the responsibility when the game was in the melting pot and booted an inspirational long-range point against Dublin in the All-Ireland final replay.
“It’s not going too bad,” said Durcan of his career path. “I still think I have a good bit to go yet, have a good bit to improve on myself but I am trying to do so.”
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