Enda Hession and Cillian O’Connor set to miss Mayo’s Allianz NFL decider against Galway on Sunday

Mayo's Cillian O'Connor is set to miss Sunday's Allianz Football League Division 1 final against Galway at Croke Park

Frank Roche

Enda Hession and Cillian O’Connor look set to miss out on Mayo’s latest expedition to Croke Park, this Sunday’s Allianz Football League decider against Galway.

Hession and O’Connor were once again absent from the match-day 26 as a much-changed Mayo, already through to the Division 1 final with a game to spare, wrapped up their regulation campaign with a six-point home defeat to Monaghan.

Afterwards, manager Kevin McStay identified Mayo’s Connacht SFC opener against Roscommon on Sunday week as a likely comeback date for the duo.

O’Connor, the championship’s all-time leading scorer, last appeared in round five of the league away to Roscommon, chipping in with 0-7 (6f) in a lively display.

Hession hasn’t featured in any of their last three outings against Roscommon, Donegal and Monaghan. The corner-back dazzled with his counter-attacking from deep against Tyrone in late February, setting up one goal for Aidan O’Shea and adding an outrageous second himself, before he was replaced after 45 minutes that night.

Asked for an update on the duo, McStay said: “They got bangs and belts in training, and one in the challenge game, so the expectation I’m hearing from the medics and the S&C boys is they’ll be ready to rock come the championship, which is two weeks away! So, we’re looking forward to that.”

Veteran forward Kevin McLaughlin will also be monitored after he came off early in the second half against Monaghan, his manager explaining that “he just felt a bit tight, and we weren’t going to risk him at that stage.”

McStay and his management team made an eye-catching ten changes for Sunday’s game in Castlebar, handing eight players a first league start of 2023, but it’s expected they will be far closer to full strength against Galway, even with the complication of a championship opener at home to Roscommon just a week later.

Mayo’s request to have their league final switched to Saturday night, giving them an extra day’s recovery before facing the Rossies, has fallen on deaf ears.

The GAA has confirmed fixture details for this coming weekend, with all four NFL finals going ahead in Croke Park. The Division 4 decider (Sligo/Wicklow) will throw in at 5pm on Saturday, followed by the Division 3 final (Fermanagh/Cavan) at 7.15pm.

Sunday’s HQ double-bill will kick off with the Division 2 final (Derry/Dublin) at 1.45, followed by the all-Connacht Division 1 showpiece (Mayo/Galway) at 4pm.

All four finals will be broadcast live by TG4 and must produce a winner on the day.