Unexpected announcement of the team for Sunday

There we were not expecting a team to be named until Saturday at the earliest (or, as Setanta had it, “just before kick-off”) when Johnno only goes and announces it following training last night. Not only that, but we’ve got two versions – this one from the Mayo GAA website (stop sniggering – they do put some useful content up there occasionally) and this alternative one from RTE. Both have the same starting fifteen but the positioning of the forwards differs significantly between them. Although the former has the nice official touch of providing the players’ names and their clubs in the First Language, I’m going with the RTE variant. This is for the simple reason that it bears more resemblance to last Sunday’s lineup and, hence, in Briiiiiiiaaannn Cartheeeeeeee’s report on the RTE sports news a few minutes ago, there’s just one change in personnel and only minor positional switching. On that basis, here it is:

D Clarke; L O’Malley, J Kilcullen, K Higgins; E Devenney, BJ Padden, P Gardiner; P Harte, D Heaney; A Dillon, A Moran, M Conroy; C Mortimor, G Brady, K O’Neill.

Isn’t amazing that, with all the injuries we have, we keep putting out more or less the same team? Clarke, Kilcullen and O’Neill are all named in the side but all three are likely to have to undergo fitness tests before the throw-in on Sunday. However, Johnno must be pretty confident they’re okay, otherwise our friend Duine Eile (three of them in fact) would have been pressed into service on the team named or else he would – as he indicated yesterday was the fallback plan – have delayed naming the side till later in the week. I’d be fairly confident that this will be the starting fifteen on Sunday.

The one change in personnel sees Michael Conroy on in place of Kilcoyne. You can’t really argue with Killer’s demotion: he was poor enough against Galway (although he did get a useful first-half point) and didn’t even see out the first half up in Omagh. I still think he has plenty to offer and is – as he proved on more than one occasion last Summer – a potent option to have on the bench to up the second-half tempo, if required.

But Mick Conroy as a half-forward? I don’t think so. Kevin O’Neill will surely drift out to the forty (with Andy Moran buzzing around in perpetual motion all around the middle area) allowing Conroy to slot into his natural position in the corner. Conroy looked neater with the hair cut the last day in Croker – rumour has it he’s also working hard to reduce the girth around the middle – and Sunday would be a good time for him to stake a serious claim to a starting place on 20th May.

No word yet on the Donegal team but, according to RTE, full-forward Brendan Devenney appears unlikely to play. Hogan Stand also reckon that Rory Kavanagh is a major doubt. There’s no confirmation at this stage (shortly after midnight) as to what has happened at the appeal hearing in relation to Kevin Cassidy’s suspension but my default assumption is that he’ll get off.

Oh and by the way, just in case you thought our injury worries were over, Barry Moran has apparently (this one’s also from Hogan Stand) broken his nose. This could, the report speculates, mean that Moran “is in danger of” missing both the Donegal match and the U21 semi-final tomorrow. They could well be half-right: Barry’s unlikely to play on Sunday, seeing as he’s played no part whatsoever in the league to date. I’d still expect him to put in another stormer against Laois in the U21 game tomorrow though.

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