Earlier on today we named our starting fifteen for Sunday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Leitrim. Here’s the team we’ve announced:
Mayo (Connacht SFC semi-final v Leitrim, 11/7/2021): Rory Byrne (Castlebar Mitchels); Enda Hession (Garrymore), Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites), Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber); Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Oisín Mullin (Kilmaine), Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport); Matthew Ruane (Breaffy), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore); Conor Loftus (Crossmolina Deel Rovers), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy, captain), Bryan Walsh (Ballintubber); Tommy Conroy (The Neale), Darren McHale (Knockmore), Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet).
Needless to say, there’s a major question mark over this team announcement. With a Covid scare ongoing within the camp, you’d expect that most, if not all, of the panel will have undergone Covid testing yesterday or today, the outcome of which could rule out of action some of those named to start on Sunday.
Changes from the named team on match-day are nothing new. This time, though, there are no pre-match mind-games involved and I’d say that if all of the named team get a clear test they’ll all start. We’ll obviously have to wait until Sunday for clarity on that so, for now, let’s proceed on the basis of the team that’s been named.
The team named shows four changes from the one that started against Sligo the weekend before last. In come goalkeeper Rory Byrne, as well as Padraig O’Hora, Stephen Coen and Bryan Walsh, while out go Robbie Hennelly, Lee Keegan, Kevin McLoughlin and Jordan Flynn.
For Rory Byrne and Padraig O’Hora – who have both been in or around the Senior panel for a fair while – Sunday’s game sees them making their Championship debuts. Padraig has made a few substitute appearances before now in the Championship – in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary and in the Sligo game the other week – but this will be his first start in a Championship match.
Rory hasn’t any League or Championship action under his belt as yet. He has plenty of club experience, however, having captained Castlebar Mitchels to their three county titles between 2015 and 2017. During that period he also lined out for Mitchels in their All-Ireland final loss to Ballyboden St Enda’s in 2016.
The best of luck to the new lads and, indeed, to all the Senior panel for Sunday’s game.