Sunday 23 April 2017

O'Shea brothers return as Mayo battle the drop

Aidan O’Shea: Set for return. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Aidan O’Shea: Set for return. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Mayo's bid to retain their Division 1 status looks set to receive a timely boost with the O'Shea brothers, Aidan and Seamus, expected to be in contention for places in the starting 15 for their testing trip to Tyrone this weekend.

Much like 12 months ago, Mayo's league form has lacked consistency with Sunday's defeat to Cavan on home soil leaving them teetering on the brink of relegation with just four points from five games, and two difficult ties left to complete their campaign.

While Cavan's efforts should be commended, the expected backlash in the west after revelations from ex-managers Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes in December hasn't materialised and they've struggled to string performances together.

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After misfiring badly against Donegal last weekend, Tyrone will be on a retrieval mission when they welcome Mayo to Healy Park so a stiff test is expected while Rory Gallagher's high-flying Donegal will visit Castlebar on Sunday week aiming to secure a place in the league decider next month.

But the return to fitness of the O'Sheas will aid Mayo's cause greatly as they look to continue their lengthy participation in the league's top flight, and the Breaffy pair look set to feature this Sunday for the first time since last October's All-Ireland final replay defeat to Dublin.

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Both returned to full training with the squad in recent weeks with Aidan on the sidelines for the past two months having picked up an ankle injury with Sligo All-Stars over the winter, his first time to play competitive basketball in seven years.

It must feel like deja vu for Stephen Rochford as Mayo were in a similar position last year only to finish with two wins and preserve their status, but the next two weeks will test their mettle further before the summer.

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Other long-term injuries are also on the mend, however, with former All-Star Ger Cafferkey and Chris Barrett back training, while veteran Alan Dillon is also getting closer to a return.

Irish Independent

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