So it was a case, after all, of sweeping changes from Salthill. Some of the omissions from that match were enforced, like Keith Higgins, Pat Harte and, perhaps, Enda Devenney but the others – Kenneth O’Malley, James Nallen, Ger Brady and skipper Kevin O’Neill – weren’t. There are seven changes in all, though three of those coming in – Aidan Higgins, Trevor Howley and David Brady – all played a part in Salthill (as did Super Mac whose hamstring injury rules him out for Saturday) and all three are fairly hardened competitors, as is David Clarke who displaces Kenneth O’Malley between the sticks.
However, the main talking points will undoubtedly be the parachuting of Barry Moran, a la Donaghy and Cussen, into full-forward (a position in which he played in the second half of last year’s All-Ireland) and the championship debuts handed to the two Ballaghaderreen greenhorns, David Kilcullen and Pierce Hanley, in the pivotal centre-back and centre-forward positions respectively. Johnno is obviously going with his gut instinct here, as he’ll know the Ballagh lads well.
Here’s the team in full: D Clarke; A Higgins, L O’Malley, T Howley; P Gardiner (Capt), D Kilcullen, Trevor Mortimer; D Heaney, D Brady; BJ Padden, P Hanley, A Dillon; C Mortimer, B Moran, A Moran.
It’s a radical remix, make no mistake, but I suppose when you look back at the display against Galway, significant changes had to be made. It’s hard to know how this new formation will perform – we’ll have to wait till 7pm on Saturday evening to find out, I guess.
That’s it – we’re still on hols dodging the deluge of rain. Well, at least the forecast for Saturday appears to be okay.