Mayo, regarded as the league specialists at one time because of their unprecedented six-in-row success back in the 1930s, will be hoping to bring the title home for the first time in 11 years.
Pat Holmes and Ray Connelly were the last managers of a national title-winning side when the brought the league cup home in 2001.
However, the league has become much more difficult to win in recent years and many of the top teams, notably Kerry and Cork, have gone on to win the championship after claiming the league.
Cork are bidding for their third on the bounce and are odds-on to beat Mayo but there is a new confidence in the Mayo camp on the back of that stunning victory over Kerry in the semi-final.
Mayo have just returned from Portugal after a very successful training camp and word is they are back refreshed and eager to bring home some silverware ahead of their championship meeting with either Leitrim or London in June.
Mayo manager James Horan has used the league astutely and effectively to bring new talent to the table and some of the more notable arrivals on the Mayo team this year include Michael Conroy and Colm Boyle from the intermediate championship winning Davitts club along with Westport’s Kevin Keane and Knockmore’s Shane McHale.
Mayo have already experienced the pressure of playing in Croke Park by beating Kerry in the semi-final and that should stand them in good stead ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
However, their record over Cork is poor. They have already lost to them in an earlier round of the league at McHale Park where Mayo let a three-point lead slip going into the last few minutes, losing in the end by a point.
Two years ago they defeated Cork to qualify for the league final but the Rebels handed them a bad beating in the league final itself.
Horan will be comforting his charges by recalling their championship meeting last year when Mayo shocked the then All-Ireland champions at the quarterfinal stage.
Mayo’s league performances have been up and down in a season that at one stage looked to be heading for disaster after a three-match losing streak but took a turn for the better when they hammered the All-Ireland champions Dublin to get their league bid back on tack.
Mayo’s defence has coped well, Boyle and Westport’s Lee Keegan the standout players, while Ger Cafferkey has consolidated at full-back position.
They have also been hitting the target for a change on a regular basis with Conor Mortimer surpassing the all-time top-scoring record held by the legendary Joe Corcoran.
However, midfield has been a problem area and the absence of Aiden O’Shea has certainly left Mayo struggling in this area.
It now seems his older brother, Seamus, looks set to partner Jason Gibbons as Mayo bid to turn the tide in this area, while Ballina’s Pat Harte, who turned the semi-final when he fired home from the penalty-spot, is another option in this department.
Otherwise Horan is expected to name the team very much on the lines of that which began against Kerry.