Mayo travel to Austin Stack Park on Saturday evening to take on a Kerry side who have been firing on all cylinders so far in the Allianz Football League.
After three games of the season, these two sides looked destined to meet in the final after both teams won their first three games.
Since then, however, the two sides have gone in the opposite direction. Kerry have maintained their 100 per cent start and look poised to qualify for a league final, while Mayo have lost back-to-back games against Dublin and Galway, throwing into doubt whether or not they are ready for the challenge this season.
While it is difficult to read into Mayo’s league form given their history (only two wins in the last 50 years), it is fair to say that Saturday night’s result could have a huge impact on James Horan’s side going forward.
Mayo’s two defeats hasn’t hampered them so much in that they are still very much in the hunt for a league final spot. However, that could all change this weekend and they could very quickly find themselves clutching at straws heading into the Round Seven.
As things stand, Mayo sit tied in third, sandwiched between Dublin and Galway, the two sides who beat them.
With Dublin at home this weekend against Tyrone, it’s hard to imagine anything but a win for Jim Gavin’s men against a Tyrone side that have blown hot and cold so far this season.
Meanwhile, Galway take on a Roscommon side who looked good, to begin with, but have failed to pick up a win since overcoming fellow relegation rivals, Monaghan, in Round Two.
On paper, it’s hard not to see both these teams picking up vital league wins on Saturday which means that in order to stay in touch and keep their hopes alive, Mayo must do the same.
The only problem with Mayo doing the same is that their task involves stopping a Kerry side who have beaten all before them in this campaign, including Dublin.
So, it’s a huge game for Mayo in a literal sense, but psychologically it’s also huge.
If Kerry are to defeat James Horan’s side on Saturday then that will mean that the Westerners have fallen to all three of their main rivals in 2019.
Getting beat by Dublin in Croke Park is one thing, but the manner in which they lost was worrying. Then backing it up with a poor performance against Galway, they simply need to show up in Tralee on Saturday.
That’s the other problem; they are going to take on a high flying Kerry side in their own back yard which is no easy feat.
If they lose, it’s hard to see how they bounce back heading into Championship and even harder to see how they can end their 68-year wait for Sam Maguire.
If they win though, not only do they blow the division wide open by ending Kerry’s dominant start, they also give themselves and their supporters a huge lift. Kerry have looked like world-beaters and are in many people’s eyes the only team who can take down Dublin, with a win, Mayo can put themselves right back in that conversation.
Overall, this game on Saturday represents more for Mayo than a chance to qualify for a league final, it’s a chance to show the rest of the GAA world that they well and truly have arrived back and are ready to dine at football’s top-table, because as things currently stand that question is up for debate.
Tralee will be hopping on Saturday and Austin Stack Park will be packed to the rafters with confident Kerry fans and as per usual, Mayo are expected to travel south in their droves.
Expect a titanic battle and one that will have a huge bearing come the summer months, even if it is only a league game.