Gardiner given '50-50' chance of overcoming hamstring woe
TREVOR MORTIMER and Peadar Gardiner are Mayo's chief injury concerns ahead of Sunday's showdown with Kerry.
Fears have been raised about both men after they sat out a training match last Sunday and the team management have admitted that Gardiner, in particular, faces a race against time to make it.
Mortimer pulled a quad muscle in training last week, while Gardiner picked up a hamstring injury while playing for Crossmolina a few days earlier when a full round of club fixtures went ahead after Mayo's giant-killing heroics against Cork.
"Trevor will more than likely be okay but Peadar is 50-50," selector Paul Jordan said yesterday, stressing that a final decision on both players' fitness will not be made until Friday.
Mortimer has been playing a particularly vital role this summer after being converted to wing-back and he did a fine job when marking Cork's all-action forward Paddy Kelly in the quarter-final.
Gardiner did not start against Cork but did well when he came off the bench to replace full-forward Alan Freeman after 58 minutes and he is a hugely experienced player in a squad which has considerably more depth this season.
Mayo's midfield siblings Seamus and Aidan O'Shea, who outshone Cork's vaunted pairing of Aidan Walsh and Alan O'Connor last time out, also picked up niggles in club action but allayed injury concerns by both playing in Sunday's trial match.
But manager James Horan has had to bring in Kenneth O'Malley as a back-up goalkeeper after losing reserve 'keeper David Clarke.
Clarke picked up a knee injury with his club (Ballina Stephenites), which was initially diagnosed as a cartilage injury, but he is having an MRI scan this week amid fears that he has suffered some cruciate damage, so O'Malley has come in as back-up to Robert Hennelly.
The big talking point of Mayo's defeat of Cork was the fact that they conceded just a single point in the second half.
But Horan still has some big decisions to make defensively against one of the most gifted attacks in the country.
He recalled Ger Cafferkey to full-back at the expense of Alan Feeney last time out but had to switch Tom Cunniffe to No 3, after Donncha O'Connor's early dominance, and the full-back role will be key again on Sunday, given the Kieran Donaghy/Colm Cooper axis.
The O'Sheas' midfield partnership is likely to be retained, which means that the experienced Ronan McGarrity will probably to be asked to repeat the sort of impact sub role he played so effectively against the Rebels, but Jason Doherty's form off the bench against Cork is believed to have put him in the running for a recall.