Our team to play Roscommon in Sunday’s Connacht football championship semi-final at Hyde Park (throw-in 2pm) was named a short while ago. Here it is:
Mayo (Connacht SFC v Roscommon, 8/6/2014): Robbie Hennelly (Breaffy); Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis); Lee Keegan (Westport), Colm Boyle (Davitts), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe); Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy); Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber), Conor O’Shea (Breaffy), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber).
I think it’s fair to say that not a lot of us would have seen a line-up like this one coming. The backline – in which the sole change from New York is Ger Cafferkey’s return at the expense of Kevin Keane – is as expected and, with the enforced absence of the unfortunate Jason Gibbons, an AOS/SOS midfield was also a racing certainty.
It’s the selection in the forwards that will surely cause most debate, with Diarmuid O’Connor being handed a second championship start at 10 and Conor O’Shea set to make his full championship debut in the pivotal centre-forward position. With Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O’Connor all lining out in the same positions as they did in Gaelic Park, the final slot in the forwards goes to Alan Freeman.
This, of course, means that there’s no room for team captain Andy Moran, nor (for only the second time ever in a championship game under James Horan – the first being last month’s match in New York) is there a place for Alan Dillon. Mikey Sweeney also has to be content with a place on the bench, as does Richie Feeney and, one assumes, Barry Moran and Chris Barrett, not to mention the likes of Kevin Keane, Brendan Harrison, Enda Varley and Darren Coen. Come to think of it, that’s a fairly impressive list of replacements.
In total, then, the team named for Sunday shows three changes from the one that lined out in Gaelic Park, with Ger Cafferkey, Conor O’Shea and Alan Freeman coming in for Kevin Keane, Jason Gibbons and Andy Moran. Compared to the team that started against the Rossies in the corresponding championship fixture last summer, there are ten survivors (which, by coincidence, is the same for them, as was discussed earlier). Out from then go David Clarke, Richie Feeney, Cathal Carolan, Enda Varley and Alan Dillon, while in come Robbie Hennelly, Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Cillian O’Connor.