Tension mounts as 'second best team in the country' takes on 'wounded tiger'
Mayo and Galway have been trading compliments in the run-up to tomorrow's Connacht quarter-final in Castlebar (4.0) but beneath the civility lurks a rivalry that has darkened in recent times.
It adds to the tension ahead of a sell-out game on a weekend when the races for the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups begin in earnest.
As well as the Galway-Mayo showdown, there's football action in Leinster and Ulster and two hurling games in Leinster.
Recent Galway-Mayo clashes have produced a number of flashpoints and with the stakes rising all the time, Cork referee Conor Lane will need to be at his vigilant best tomorrow.
Mayo defender Keith Higgins was sent off for flattening Damien Comer, while Galway attacker Tom Flynn was black-carded during last year's Connacht semi-final in Pearse Stadium.
Comer and his colleagues Seán Andy ó Ceallaigh and Seán Mulkerrins were sent off during Galway's win over Mayo in the Connacht FBD League last January, while the O'Connor brothers, Cillian and Diarmuid, and Paul Conroy were dismissed in the Allianz League clash in Pearse Stadium a month later.
Wicklow referee Anthony Nolan flashed no fewer than 18 cards - 15 yellow and three red - in a fractious encounter.
Despite all that, both camps have played down suggestions that one of football's greatest rivalries has taken an ugly turn, instead opting to praise each other.
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford described Galway as "the second best team in the country" while Galway captain Damien Comer said Mayo were like a "wounded tiger" after a difficult league campaign and disappointment in last year's All-Ireland final, which they lost to Dublin by a point.
"It's no mean feat that they were in the All-Ireland final in the last two years and probably should have won the two of them only for the kick of a ball and a bit of bad luck on the day," he said.
In hurling, history will be made this weekend when the round robin format gets its first outings in the Leinster hurling championship.
Galway begin the defence of the All-Ireland title against Offaly in Tullamore this evening (7.0), while Allianz League champions Kilkenny play Dublin in Parnell Park tomorrow (2.0).