The team for Sunday’s Connacht senior football championship final against Galway at MacHale Park (throw-in 2pm) has been named. Here it is:
Mayo (Connacht SFC final v Galway, 13/7/2014): Robbie Hennelly (Breaffy); Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis); Lee Keegan (Westport), Colm Boyle (Davitts), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe); Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Barry Moran (Castlebar Mitchels); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole); Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber).
James isn’t noted for making significant changes from one championship match to the next so it’s perhaps noteworthy that the team named for Sunday shows four changes from the one that lined out against Roscommon in the semi-final last month. Into the side for Sunday’s decider come Chris Barrett at corner-back (his first start since last year’s All-Ireland final), Barry Moran at midfield (his first championship start since the 2012 All-Ireland final), Alan Dillon at corner-forward and Andy Moran at full-forward. The quartet missing out on this occasion are Tom Cunniffe (injured), Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor O’Shea and Alan Freeman.
Given that Tom’s absence is enforced and the experiment of starting the two young lads was unlikely to be repeated for a championship match of this significance, the biggest call James has made involves restoring captain Andy Moran to the team at full-forward in place of Alan Freeman. Andy takes his place in what is a fundamentally reshaped forward line, in which Jason Doherty is the only player named to start in the same position as he did against Roscommon. The changes in the forward line made for Sunday see Kevin McLoughlin switching out from 13 to 10, Aidan O’Shea moving up from midfield to centre-forward, Cillian O’Connor shifting across from top of the left to top of the right and Alan Dillon coming in at left corner-forward to make his first start of the year.
Sunday’s team also shows five changes from the one that started against the Tribesmen in the Salthill mauling of May last year. Gone from that starting fifteen are David Clarke (long-term injury absentee), Tom Cunniffe (injured), Cathal Carolan (long-term injury absentee), Enda Varley and Alan Freeman with their places taken by Robbie Hennelly, Chris Barrett, Barry Moran, Jason Doherty and Andy Moran, who, of course, came off the bench at Pearse Stadium to memorable effect.