Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News today is reporting that it’s coming down to a straight choice between Aghamore’s Alan Freeman and Garrymore’s Enda Varley to claim the vacant position, created by Andy Moran’s unfortunate injury against Down, on the Mayo team to face Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park this coming Sunday (throw-in 3.30pm).
All manner of possible permutations to replace the unfortunate Ballaghman have been put forward here and elsewhere over the last few weeks but it now seems likely that James Horan isn’t going to undertake any kind of widespread reshuffling of the deck ahead of throw-in. Instead it appears that either Alan or Enda will be slotted into an otherwise unchanged starting fifteen from the one that lined out against Down in the quarter-final.
Alan would seem to be the more straightforward like-for-like replacement as he could slot in either at centre-forward or full-forward. It seems likely, however, that the ploy of playing Jason Doherty at 11 (ish) will be used again on Sunday which, if it’s Alan, would mean that he’d start at 14, replacing Andy directly there. If Enda gets the nod, then presumably he’ll do so in the corner with Cillian moving across to 14. Having said that, when we beat the Dubs back in 2006 it was Conor Mortimer who had 14 on his back so maybe the issue about who is nominally picked to wear what jersey doesn’t matter all that much.
There’s no news yet, by the way, on when the team will be announced. Training takes place at McHale Park tomorrow night and the players will probably be told the team then but us plebs most likely won’t get the details until Thursday. That’s also the day that Dublin are due to name their team so it’d make sense for us to reciprocate with our team announcement then.
While we’re on the topic of the Mayo News, Mike Finnerty has a piece on how James Horan performed when facing the national media at the press briefing last week while Colin McDonagh has an interview with Billy Fitzpatrick about his 1985 semi-final cameo when the then 41 year-old came off the subs bench to score a screamer of a point as we stormed back to claim a draw against the Dubs. I was in the upper deck of the old Hogan stand that day, close to the press box, and I remember after the final whistle screaming across to the journos to make sure they’d noted down Billy Fitz’s age for their match reports. Quick as a flash, one of them shouted back at me: “That’s his waist size, is it?” Ah, the memories.