I’m coming to this a bit late, I’m afraid (as will be the case with all relevant news this week, I reckon), but, for the record, here’s the team to face Donegal in the All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park on Saturday evening (throw-in 6pm) that was named earlier on tonight:
Mayo (All-Ireland SFC quarter-final v Donegal, 8/8/2015): David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites); Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis, captain); Lee Keegan (Westport), Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Colm Boyle (Davitts); Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Tom Parsons (Charlestown Sarsfields); Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore); Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole).
So it’s an unchanged starting fifteen from the one that lined out against Sligo in the Connacht final last month. Given the ease with which we won that one, it’s no real surprise that Noel and Pat have opted for continuity for Saturday, though whether or not the team that’s been named will actually start on the day remains open to conjecture. One thing’s for sure, though, they won’t be lining out in the manner named but sure we know that already.
Looking back to the last time we faced Donegal in the championship – in that memorable (for us) quarter-final of 2013 – Saturday’s team contains eleven survivors: Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, the two O’Sheas, Kevin McLoughlin, Keith Higgins, Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran. The four who started then but won’t be lining out on Saturday are Robbie Hennelly, Chris Barrett, Alan Dillon and Alan Freeman. All four are all but certain to be on the bench on Saturday. The four players lining out this time but who didn’t in 2013 are David Clarke (injured then), Tom Parsons, Diarmuid O’Connor and Jason Doherty.
Turning to the more recent past, in the form of that League meeting with them at MacHale Park in April, Saturday’s team contains only nine survivors from that one: Keith, Lee, Colm, Donal, Seamus, Kevin, Aidan, Jason and Diarmuid. Missing from Saturday’s team then were David, Ger, Tom C, Tom P, Andy and Cillian. The six lads who started then but won’t on Saturday are Kenneth O’Malley, Brendan Harrison, Kevin Keane, Barry Moran, Mark Ronaldson and Danny Kirby.