MAYO bid for All-Ireland glory this evening (Wednesday) in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, when they face Laois in what is expected to be a very close and hard fought All-Ireland Under 16 ladies football final.
Their form has been very good in all games so far, expecially in the All-Ireland semi-final against Armagh where Mayo produced a five-star performance before coming out on top by a large margin.
However, they will face a much tougher team today as Laois also enjoyed a very impressive run to the All-Ireland final. They came through a tough Leinster campaign before beating what was regarded as a very good Meath team in the decider, and in their semi-final they proved too strong for Munster champions Limerick.
Yet Mayo fear no one and will go into this evening's game full of confidence. Under manager Justin McDonagh they have improved with every outing and have developed into a very exciting young team.
Such were their performances in Connaught that many observers felt they would give winning the All-Ireland a fair go. Now, after their comprehensive victory over Armagh in the semi-final, they are just 60 minutes of football away from winning the national title.
It was that performance against Armagh which made everybody realise that this was a serious Mayo team. All-Ireland semi-finals are usually very difficult to win but this was an exception as Mayo just blew their opponents away before claiming victory by a whopping 31 points – 9-16 to 2-6.
Such was their dominance that management were able to give game time to five players off the bench and they, just like the 15 who started, showed there is plenty of talent in reserve to come on and do a stellar job.
Very solid in defence, they dominated throughout in midfield against and, up front, they turned good possession into scores. In Tara Needham they have an excellent free-taker, while centre-forward Louise Dowling, who scored 3-2 against Armagh, comes with a huge amount of experience, having played for the Mayo senior team that lost to Dublin in last year's All-Ireland championship final in Croke Park.
If Mayo were impressive in their semi-final victory, then so too were Laois in their win over Limerick. They trailed by a goal at half-time, 3-2 to 2-2, but really came into their own after the interval, taking complete control. They outscored their opponents by 2-13 to 1-1 in the second half to end up convincing 15-point winners.
Like Mayo, Laois have a well balanced side and they will have gained a lot of confidence after their victory over Limerick. They will provide Mayo with plenty of problems.
But one has to give Mayo a great chance of winning. They have shown that they are a very good and talented team, and I expect they will prove a bit too strong for Laois and come out on top.