Four changes for the Connacht final

The team to face London in this year’s historic Connacht final at McHale Park on Sunday (throw-in 2pm) was named this morning. Here it is:

Mayo (Connacht SFC Final v London, 21/7/2013): Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Chris Barrett (Belmullet); Lee Keegan (Westport), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Colm Boyle (Davitts); Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber), Richie Feeney (Castlebar Mitchels); Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Darren Coen (Hollymount/Carramore).

So it’s four changes – two enforced – from the team that started against Roscommon in the semi-final last month. The injured Kenneth O’Malley (who was himself a replacement for David Clarke the last day) is replaced by Robbie Hennelly, the Breaffy man swapping a seat in the stand for the goalkeeper’s jersey as he makes his first championship start for the county since the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final. Injury also rules out centre-back Donal Vaughan where, in what for James Horan has to be seen as a surprisingly radical move, Keith Higgins shifts to 6 to create a truly eye-watering half-back line. Chris Barrett gets the nod to fill Keith’s place in the corner.

In the forwards, Cathal Carolan and Enda Varley are the unlucky men to give way, with Andy Moran making his first championship start since the day he did his cruciate against Down last August while the enormously promising Darren Coen gets his first championship start at corner-forward. Richie Feeney was meant to be a doubt due to a reported stress fracture in his foot but the Mitchels man is named to start at 12 while Alan Dillon – a man who knows better than most what it’s like to play through the pain barrier – lines out at centre-forward.

The list of subs hasn’t been released at this stage and most likely won’t be until Sunday.

Looking back to the last time we played London – on that almost fateful day back in May 2011 – Sunday’s team contains seven survivors: Robbie Hennelly, Tom Cunniffe, Richie Feeney (who played at half-back that day), Chris Barrett, Andy Moran, Alan Dillon and Alan Freeman.

38 thoughts on “Four changes for the Connacht final

  1. Will Feeney actually start or will we see Carolan or O’Connor come in before throw in?

    Similarly might Higgins and Cunniffe swap between the half back and full back lines?

    It hardly seems worthwhile naming a dummy team for this game but maybe he’s trying to keep his cards close to his chest for the next one. As long as we go in with the right attitude as we have done in the other games we should be very comfortable here. If we go well clear I would like to see the foot kept on the gas for the full 70 this time.

    Best of luck to the team and management. Hopefully no new injuries on Sunday.

  2. So,good strong team as we knew it would be with a few surprises.

    Cant see Higgins as a centre back myself and it might upset fulcrum of team. Thought McHale might start there or even Keane. Not sure about Barrett but hopefully he will prove me wrong.
    Delighted for Coen to get chance and also that the two boys are back. Varley and O Connor great subs to have (though don’t be surprised if Varley on from start).
    The hay is saved,the turf is out, holidays to Lahinch and Lisdoonvarna over, all that remains now is to bring the cup home on Sunday and get the car seviced for the trip to Croker!

  3. That is one hell of a half back line surely to God. Although I would not be surprised to see Higgins and Keegan switch positions after throw in. Barrett and Coen deserve their starts as they have been there or thereabouts so far in the championship and I am particularly looking forward to having a proper look at Coen (surely he will not be a last minute switch this time!). I think I called it right with Andy and Coen either side of Freeman and it is good to see that Horan is sticking by his principles of selecting players that are performing in matches and training as opposed to seniority or experience.
    Connaught Council are saying they are expecting in excess of 18,000 which is a healthy figure all things considered – the opponents, live on TV3, possibly a fore-gone conclusion – but I have to say that I am really looking forward to it. Mind you, considering I was looking forward to watching them in a freezing cold Ballyhaunis play Roscommon in the FBD this is a considerable step-up. I must get a life!!!

  4. Looking forward to seeing that full forward line in action. We know what Andy Moran can do. We saw the potential of Alan freeman the last day and if Darren Cohen is as good as he seems then we could be into totally new and very exciting territory! And then you have Cillian o Conor.
    Also looking forward to seeing Keith Higgins out the field if he is let. He could unlock any defence with his speed and sidestep. Sunday is definitely a day for trying things out. It is a luxury that teams rarely get at this time of year.

  5. This is one banana skin that we just have to step over. The main thing here is no new injuries, no recurrence of old ones and no suspensions. We only have to win this one.
    I hope our discipline will be spot on for this as this is the biggest danger I see.
    I am excited about the team as selected so I hope we are not looking at another dummy team or changes before the start, etc.
    The half back line as selected offers us serious possibilities going forward & I do believe that McLoughlin at 10 & Feeney at 12 is the way to start.
    With an eye to Croker in 2 weeks Dillon, Moran & Coen need full games (or close to) here.

  6. If Higgins plays as selected i am really looking forward to see him play here.It will be interesting.I actually think he will cause a lot of damage to the opposition.Really looking forward to this game.My girlfriend has her own football semi final to nite in Davitts but that to have neatly as much interest to me.Prob best i not mention that bit to her.Roll on Sunday.

  7. Grt to see keith at 6. Thats his club position so would love to see him play there. Barret is some man. Not around all year yet still manages to make first 15.
    Is there a better half back line around?
    FF line looks very interesting. Think london will be ultra physical and expect tight first half. Hope coc and mickey c get a run. Qf not far off. Our season is all about the next two weeks.

  8. pardon my ignorence but when did Rob Hennelly get back in the squad and when did the ballinrobe keeper O Malley get injured? Does anyone know who the sub keeper will be.
    Also with the Freeman incident and the wild cow in the crush, did Alan not have any wavin pipe or a hazelnut stick with him. How was the cow after.

  9. Actually hope London do well especially Tony Gaughan.dont want them to win but a good challenge would be nice.
    Dont like Higgins at cb and would like Conroy to have game time but I trust in James.
    Would a target of no wides be too ambitious?
    If London did win would it be greatest sporting shock ever?cant think of one that would match it.

  10. Well that is without doubt remember51.I expect nothing else than London coming out trying to knock 9 shades of shite out of us.A few years ago this physicality might had made me weary .But the lads are so well drilled.I would be expecting our own lads to show plenty of physicality themselves.That matched by our intensity and work rate and skill we will come out well on top.It may be tight for the first 15 or 20 minutes but i cant see nothing less than at least a 15 point win.This is the London team that didn’t score in the second half against what could only be said as a poor Leitrim team.

  11. Interesting team. You just wonder if it was an All-Ireland final would Clarke and Vaughan be playing.

    Having to go for a third choice keeper at this stage is worrying. Indeed you could say he was not third choice because he wasn’t on the panel. He will be a long way short on sharpness and having to play at this level. Still, I was a big fan at one stage.

    Higgins at CHB could be a decoy, but why name him there then in the first place. Many have suggested him for this position and it’s well worth a try.

    I’m still a bit worried about the forward line. I should be delighted that Andy is back, but there’s a niggling worry at the back of my mind about the effects of that cruciate. But, getting through full games unscathed is a must all the same.

    Think Carolan is hard done by – if you think back to his timid appearance against Dublin in February, he has developed massively, as a teak-tough defensive forward who can score; just think of all the work he had to do to get through on goal against Galway, even allowing for the poor opposition on the day.

    Still, Cohen has looked good in both matches to date, even though they were won when he appeared, and as I said before, he looked top quality in the minor semi versus Tyrone a few of years ago.

    Overall, a bit worried (definitely in glass half empty mode at the moment), by the injury situation:

    * Regular goalkeepers injured
    * CHB out with niggly hamstring
    * Barry Moran succumbing to the injury jinx he seemed to have beaten
    * Dillon really operating on a wing and a prayer – the recent interviews are a bit scary
    in terms of his underlying groin/stomach problems
    * Cillian O’C out; making progress apparently but will still be rusty when he comes
    back
    * Mickey C; ditto
    * Not to mention Jason D, Brian Gallagher, Danny Geraghty; again, all progressing
    but will be equally rusty.

  12. London may have the heart but it’s the fitness in baking heat that will be the real factor. Mayo are like racehorses, up and down the field and everything done at wicked speed, a totally different proposition to Leitrim or Sligo for London.
    I see a bag of goals being scored, and the point scoring to be high too and spread out as usual.

    Mayo. 5 18
    London. 7

    Robert hennelly is a great option to have and fair play to him for stepping up when asked. Happy to hear Andy gets to start, best of luck to them all.

  13. eugenelavinkickout, no pipe or stick. He swung a kick at the cow and missed!!!!

  14. EugeneLavin – I think the sub keeper will be Paul Mannion of Mayo Gaels. He was the keeper for the Juniors against Sligo in Salthill back in May.

  15. Pebblesmeller, thank you for that, yeah I thought something like that, he probably had the wellies rolled down too much. Wouldn’t be used to it with the wellies down. Sunday with football boots will be different!

  16. Also thank you Declan, yeah i was shocked to see Rob Hennelly there, no doubt he is a great keeper and hope all goes well for him, just didn’t realise he was involved with Mayo again.

  17. Eugenelavinkickout – My understanding is that Rob Hennelly was called back into the panel only inside the last week or so, after Kenneth O’Malley sprained his ankle in the hush-hush challenge match against Monaghan. David Clarke is still out with hamstring trouble so Rob was the obvious choice and it’s great that he was in a position to make himself available. I’m hearing that the sub ‘keeper for Sunday won’t be Paul Mannion but I don’t want to say any more than that as the subs’ list hasn’t been announced as yet. Also, re Alan Freeman, didn’t someone say in an earlier comment that it was his father and not Alan himself who had the close shave in the cattle crush?

    Kevmy85 – RTE Radio and NewsTalk would be two other options for radio coverage on Sunday. If Mike Finnerty is doing commentary for TV3 (they’re covering the Ulster final so I assume he’ll be doing that) then Midwest could be ropey enough (unless Rob Murphy is doing it, in which case it’d be fine). I’ve been away for the last two Connacht finals and the guy they had standing in for Mike on Midwest was painfully bad.

    Thanks all, by the way, for the kind wishes and all the welcome home messages. Sure it’s like holidays at home with this weather – long may it last!

  18. Very interested in seeing Rob back in goals along with Higgins at CB.

    Injuries are a slight worry but Mayo have been given a gift with this game to get lads back towards match sharpness.

    Predicting a big win for Mayo and hopefully we can learn something from this game. the bank holiday weekend is the big one really as its all out warfare from that point.

  19. I have no worries at all about Robert Hennelly assuming he is playing club football all year.
    Regards sub keeper I’m not in touch with the club scene in Mayo but I wonder is Michael Slingermann still playing. I thought he would be a serious candidate when he was a minor but the competition for No 1 spot is intense in Mayo. I think I saw him mentioned in an Athlone Town team and also playing outfield for Kiltimagh at some stage. .

  20. What is the situation with Barry Morans injury does anyone know? Will he be available for the QF (assuming we win)? Also who is the reserve keeper for Sunday? Looking forward to seeing coen on Sunday would be good to see Jason doc and conroy get a run off the bench too to get them up to championship speed we will need 9 or 10 forwards able to make an impact if we are to progress through August look at limerick hurlers the last day forwards off the bench scored 6 points to steer them home we need to have similar strength in the squad.

  21. Thanks to Mayomaningalway for info regarding Ruislip do later….on my home 2change and head out for what promises to be one night to remember. Let’s hope that’s followed by a Sunday to remember. Good luck to the lads.

  22. It’s a bit worrying at this stage of the season to have so many of our players carrying injuries or recovering from same. A settled team should be taking shape by now but unfortunately because of all these injuries it’s not possible for James to achieve this.
    Beating London isn’t the problem but avoiding more injuries against a very physical team might be, especially if some lads are easing their way back as I suspect they are.
    Anyway all this is for another day so for now let’s sit back and enjoy what should be a great occasion for all concerned.

  23. Calm the nerves every one. We can only play with who’s fit regardless!! Simple as! Best of luck to all involved on Sunday and best of luck to all recovering from injuries??! Tiocfaidh ar la! Is feidir linn!

  24. Brendan Walsh serious goalie and trains with Mayo team.great choice.serious shotstopper.Glad he is available. Great panel in fairness.

  25. It’s great to see big Bennie (Brendan Walsh) getting a nod for the bench even if its only temporary. A great keeper.

  26. As well as the half back line the full forward line also looks very exciting. Sunday could be the day that Darren Coen announces himself on the scene as a new county star. Looking forward to seeing if Alan Freeman can continue to build on his last two appearances and fully realise his goal scoring potential. Great to see Andy back in the starting 15 and no doubt will provide great leadership and a couple of sweet scores to deliver us the three in a row!!

  27. The prospect of Keith Higgins in the half backs is an exciting one. He is a first class defender and one serious attacker.
    I think the forwards look great and could score a huge amount. Bring it on, and to the final whistle, like Armagh did last week end.

  28. Take 5: Reasons for attending on Sunday:

    * Build massive support for the team. Mayo don’t do what you might call serious ‘support’. Supporters are fanatical but they don’t show it by encouragement at games – think back to Donegal last year.

    * Historic pairing and London are there on merit.

    * Mayo going for three in a row in Connaught

    * Minors need support – Rossies will be there in numbers and volume.

    * May well set a record for hottest fin & where better to be in this weather?

  29. Well said cat col all positive! Positivity is what we need no more of the sad old stories of if and but! It’s all systems go from now! Maigh Eo Abu

  30. Reason for going nice weather and probably two Connacht titles will be won by Mayo. I doubt the rossies will travel in numbers, ticket prices and venue will turn most of them away.

  31. Thanks to mayomaningalway for info earlier. Great nite at Ruislip……with Willie Joe, Pat Holmes, James Kilban to mention a few. Good luck lads on Sunday.

  32. This is a strong lineout, potential banana skin taken into consideration by JH and co and an outshooting of Armaghs 8 goals last weekend a possibility.
    I’d love to be able to take on the Dubs at this moment with this side but patience will have to endure.
    It’s great also that it’s us at home that get the chance to make history and get to play London in their first CFC final and have the chance to make it 3 in a row for the first time since winning Sam 62 years ago.
    Londain will put it up to us (nothing to lose and still in it for Sam) in the early period but as the previous bloggers have said, we should pull away from them handy enough.
    They do like to play on the edge and I just hope that though we are almost guaranteed our 3 in a row that our injury list isn’t added to.
    History is in the making next Sunday, so now let us go on and repeat it 51 style.
    Here’s hoping and wishing our minors the very best, I have a feeling they can do it as well .
    Also fancy Monaghan to put it up to the Donnies but then secretly want us to take them in the semis before winning Sam against Kerry on Sept 23rd…………….ah…. the happiness of dreams…………………….I seriously think, that avoiding more injuries and a bit of Lady luck that this side can deliver.
    Maigh Eo by 20 plus.( goals from RichieFeeney,Alan Freeman, DarrenCoan and AndyMoran) Alan D,Mac and Keith to give score keeper cramp

    P.s good to have Captain WJ back at the wheel and may the holiday still continue in the Costa Del Mayo.
    Maigh Eo Abu

  33. Too many playmakers up front rather than score-takers – will see lots of substitutions throughout in order to remedy that.

  34. Like the last two games Horan will be looking to put this game to bed in the 1st half and the 2nd half will be used to clear the bench. Goals will be the target in this game at least three should be scored against London IMO. I can imagine O’Connor,Doherty will get a run out.

  35. That’s a grand team, but lets face it, regardless, we should beat London by 25 points if we are to be considered serious contenders for Sam. Destroy the oposition, thats what a serious team should do…ala Kerry/Dublin etc.
    there’s not many games we go into where we can be as confident of a win as this one, so we should enjoy the occasion no doubt but the real business begins in August. For Sunday we should dish out a good hammering to London and avoid injuries and cards at all costs.

    I’ve revised upward my projected attendance for Sundays match. The weather will be nice so folks will be itching to get out with the kids, plus this is a great chance fo the kids to see a potential all Ireland winning team before they leave, and go east on their quest for glory.
    Attendance: 18–>20k
    Score: Mayo 6-12 London 1-5

    Looking ahead to August, we need all hands on deck as the opposition will be talented, better coached, better prepared and a much tougher out than what we’ve played so far. It will be warfare.

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