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Horan hands debuts to Carolan and Coen

MAYO have handed championship debuts to Cathal Carolan and Darren Coen for Sunday's Connacht SFC opener against Galway in Pearse Stadium (4.0).

Carolan was part of last year's panel and gets the nod at half- forward, while Coen starts in the full-forward line alongside Alan Freeman and Enda Varley despite only featuring as a substitute in the league clash with Cork. In all, James Horan has named 11 of the side that started last year's All-Ireland final, with Seamus O'Shea joining Carolan, Freeman and Coen as the new faces.

Galway manager Alan Mulholland has been forced to leave team captain Finian Hanley out of his side. The full-back has a shoulder injury, meaning Gareth Bradshaw will act as skipper on the day.

Hanley replaces Colin Forde, and Mulholland is backing the Killererin man to shine.

"Colin will do a great job for us. He captained Galway to win the All-Ireland U-21 title two years ago and was also on the minor team which won the All-Ireland in 2007," he said.

"He's a quality player, we're fortunate we have the strength in the squad to compensate for the loss of someone like Finian."

Goalkeeper Manus Breathnach is a championship debutant, while midfielder Fiontain O Curraoin and wing-forward Tom Flynn are the only players named to start from the U-21 side which defeated Cork to win the All-Ireland crown a few weeks ago.

Dessie Dolan has been drafted into the Westmeath team for their Leinster opener against Carlow in Mullingar on Sunday.

The Garrycastle forward has been confined mostly to the bench this year, but impressed when introduced against Derry in their NFL Division 2 final defeat to Derry, and Pat Flanagan has included the former All Star from the start.

Galway ( SF v Mayo) – M Breathnach; J Duane, C Forde, G Sweeney; G Bradshaw, K Kelly, G Sice; N Coleman, F O Curraoin; T Flynn, P Conroy, C Doherty; S Armstrong, M Meehan, D Cummins.

Mayo (SF) – D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferky, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; K McLoughlin, C O'Connor, C Carolan; E Varley, A Freeman, D Coen.

Westmeath (SF v Carlow) – G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire; D Harte, P Sharry, J Gaffey; D Duffy, J Heslin; K Martin, C McCormack, J Dolan; G Egan, D Glennon, D Dolan.

Irish Independent