Earlier today we named our starting fifteen for Sunday’s pivotal National League Division One meeting with Monaghan at St Tiernach’s Park on Sunday (throw-in 2pm). Here’s the team we’re going with in Clones.
Mayo: (NFL Division One v Monaghan 23/2/2020): Robbie Hennelly (Breaffy); Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites), Oisín Mullin (Kilmaine), Lee Keegan (Westport); Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport), Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber), Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels); Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy, captain); Fergal Boland (Aghamore), Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Darren Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), James Carr (Ardagh).
So once again James Horan and his selectors have opted to shake things up, with five changes from the team that started against Meath in Round 3. In fairness, though, two of these alterations sees the return of players who weren’t available to play in Navan while another two came on as subs that day.
Into the team for Sunday come Padraig O’Hora, Oisín Mullin, League debutant Eoghan McLaughlin, Kevin McLoughlin and Darren Coen. Out go James McCormack, Brendan Harrison, Eoin O’Donoghue, James Durcan and Tommy Conroy.
That’s a significant reshuffle at the back. James, Brendan and Eoin all did reasonably okay, I thought, in Navan but, with the two lads to come back in and perhaps mindful of those second half goals we leaked the last day, we’ve gone with a recast defensive unit for Sunday.
It’s a backline that also features a full League debut for Westport’s Eoghan McLaughlin, who showed a bit of zip and bite off the bench against Meath. Who he, you might ask. Mike Finnerty’s reply to this – on the post-Meath episode of the podcast (which is here) – was “think Lee Keegan seven or eight years ago.” Best of luck to Eoghan on his debut on Sunday.
At midfield, Aidan finally gets named to start, even though he’s ended up starting the last two League games in which he was named as a sub in the programme. And he’s been named team captain for the game into the bargain. He’d be a great choice in the role for the year too if that’s the plan.
We seem to be aiming for more in the way of firepower up front. That’s no harm because our scoring rate to date in this campaign has been a bit on the limp side and we simply have to get these numbers up.
Diarmuid definitely needs to rediscover his scoring touch from play and the half-forward line – driving towards the opposition’s posts – is the area of the pitch that’s best suited for him to do damage in that regard. Darren Coen contributed plenty on the scoreboard last year and it’s great to have him back in the starting line-up again. Kevin simply had to start after his sensational substitute appearance in Navan.
All in all, it’s a decent pick. Once again it’s a mix of youth and experience but there seems to be a bit more heft to this line-up, which I think we’ll need as the Farney lads do like to play on the edge and we need to be ready to do likewise.
Despite all the experimentation right now, when comparing Sunday’s team with the one we sent out to face the same opposition in Round 7 of the League last year there’s still plenty of commonality between the two. Seven of the team named for Clones – Stephen Coen, Paddy Durcan, Aidan O’Shea, Fergal Boland, Diarmuid O’Connor, Kevin McLoughlin and Darren Coen – also started last March in MacHale Park. In addition, both Robbie Hennelly and James Carr made substitute appearances in that game.