According to this week’s Mayo News, Aidan O’Shea looks set to start his first match for us this coming Saturday since the league game with Kerry down in Tralee back in early April. Following his storming second half performance from the bench in the Connacht final, it was always likely that the big lad would come into the reckoning for a place in the starting fifteen at Croke Park and it’s little surprise that this now appears to be the case. The report doesn’t state who is likely to give way but, having put in MOTM performances against both Leitrim and Sligo it’s not going to be Barry Moran, which can only mean that Danny Geraghty will be among the replacements for Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Down (throw-in 5pm).
The same report says that Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea, Alan Freeman and Michael Conroy are all pressing hard for starting places but with two berths at most up for grabs in the forwards they’re not all going to make it. While James Horan has been more than willing to engage in wholesale alterations to his starting line-up from one match to another during the league, his record in the championship has been one of careful, incremental change so swapping out up to three of the six forwards who started the last day just isn’t going to happen.
Michael Conroy might line out instead of either Enda Varley or Jason Doherty (he’s interchanged with both at different times this year) and I guess there’s an outside chance that Cillian might switch to the corner, freeing up 11 for either Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea or Alan Freeman but, to be honest, I think even that would be too radical for James’ Plan A. Indeed, I reckon there’s a good chance he’ll go with the same front six as started in Hyde Park.
The team is due to be announced at some point tomorrow – @MayoGAA will, as usual, be the go-to place in this regard. I’m going to be bottled up with work stuff until early afternoon tomorrow so you might want to bear in mind that I could be a bit off the pace with this news when it comes out.
That same Mayo News report also states that Ballinrobe’s Alan Murphy – who has been blazing a scoring trail in this year’s club championship – has been called up to the senior panel. I guess that answers the question posed here on the site the other day about the need for forward replacements in light of recent developments but it’s not clear as yet whether or not the new man will be catapulted straight into the 26-man match day panel for Croke Park. The paucity of forward replacements we currently have on the bench suggests there’s a chance that this may well happen but once again we’ll have to wait to find out.
Elsewhere in the Mayo News, Rob Murphy has an interview with minor manager Tony Duffy on the daunting task his charges face in taking on reigning All-Ireland minor champions Tipperary at Croke Park on Saturday (throw-in 3pm).
Incredibly, there are three Mayo teams in championship action on Saturday as the juniors are taking on British champs Lancashire in their All-Ireland semi-final that afternoon. This one is being held across the water at Old Bedians in Manchester (which is here) where throw-in is set for 2.30pm and this match is previewed in the Mayo News by Colin McDonagh.