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Horan turns up heat

MAYO manager James Horan has turned up the heat ahead of their potentially explosive All-Ireland rematch with Donegal by claiming the champions have taken GAA physicality to a new level.

Horan's comments come in the wake of weekend complaints by Donegal boss Jim McGuinness, highlighting the four concussions suffered by his players during the Ulster SFC and citing a spinal or neck injury as his "biggest fear".

But ahead of Sunday's quarter-final, his Mayo counterpart remarked: "Donegal and their back-room team, they're competitive, they're All-Ireland champions. Anything that'll give them an advantage, they'll try. Last year they mastered many new skills and brought football to a different level on many fronts, particularly in the area around physicality.

"They really ratcheted that up last year and put a lot of teams to the sword based on their strength, power and tackling. I don't know if any of ye have been at the end of a Michael Murphy tackle recently, but there's serious, serious physicality in that team. They've been leaders on that front."

Meanwhile, Mayo are likely to make one attacking change with Cillian O'Connor poised for a starting recall. The two-time Young Footballer of the Year is expected to make his first SFC start since Galway in May after his recovery from a dislocated shoulder and his impressive 3-3 cameo as a second-half substitute against London.

Another forward back from recent shoulder trouble, Michael Conroy, picked up a slight hamstring injury against London but Horan indicated that he's not out of contention. Rob Hennelly will retain the No 1 jersey as David Clarke (hamstring) and Kenneth O'Malley (ankle) will remain out for "a number of weeks".