It’s only Wednesday and we’re not likely to release details of our starting fifteen for the Tipperary game until Friday evening at the earliest but the team we field at Semple Stadium on Saturday is surely of increasing interest to us at this stage. It’ll be the day itself, of course, no more than an hour ahead of throw-in, before we know for sure what the starting team will be but that’s the drill nowadays and it’ll be no different, I expect, for this game.
Stephen Rochford and his selectors have a number of choices to make for this one. Mike Finnerty in his match preview in the Mayo News (here) lays out what these options are, pondering whether or not the big guns – in the form of Lee Keegan, Diarmuid O’Connor and Andy Moran – will be deployed from the throw-in or if some, or all, of them are held in reserve.
Of relevance here will be whether or not to persist with Cian Hanley and James Durcan, both of whom made their championship debuts down at the Gaelic Grounds the last day. I thought both lads, despite looking a bit raw, did well and there must be a temptation to give them another start in the wide, open spaces of Semple.
If the likes of Diarmuid and Andy are being considered for starting places in Thurles then the two tyros would be the obvious ones to miss out, though Evan Regan’s place is surely under scrutiny as well. Evan won a load of ball against Limerick but, despite some good work on assists – in particular for Cillian’s opening goal – he didn’t produce much in the way of end-product.
If Lee is going to line out – as he could well do, not least given the threats in the Tipp forward line that need minding – that means somebody’s going to lose out in the backline. Both Eoin O’Donoghue and Ger Cafferkey did well in Limerick but if Lee slots back into the side then it could be that one of this duo will need to make way.
I’ve no idea how these choices will go and, as I’ve already said, it’ll be no more than an hour from the start on Saturday evening before we find out what the team to play Tipp will be. It’ll be Saturday soon enough, I guess.
In the meantime, here’s some more reading to keep you going. There’s a piece by Mike Finnerty with Alan Dillon in this week’s Mayo News (here), where the Ballintubber man backs his club-mate Diarmuid O’Connor to fill Tom Parsons’ shoes in midfield. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say. The same paper also has a few articles of interest on Sunday’s U20 Connacht title win – Mike with Mickey Conroy (here), who also appeared on the podcast this week, and Mike (again) with a feature about the U20s and the 1992/3 senior team’s jubilee appearance at Hyde Park on Sunday (here).
From the other side of the ditch there are a few short pieces worthy of perusal, all from the Nenagh Guardian. There’s an interview with Tipp manager Liam Kearns (here), a match preview (here) and an interview with their captain Rory Kiely (here). These are all just tasters for longer articles that appear in the paper itself so it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to go that route for more detail there.
The route for all of us takes us to Thurles on Saturday, which I’m really looking forward to as Semple Stadium is a place I’ve yet to stand in. I’m looking forward to putting that to rights then and seeing the lads continue to put this championship campaign back together again too.
Support the team as they gear up for their next test in the qualifiers. Play the Mayo GAA Lotto here.