Tuesday 20 August 2019

Horan opts to shake Mayo up with five changes ahead of qualifier trip to Down

Mayo manager James Horan. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo manager James Horan. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

James Horan has taken drastic action following Mayo's early exit from the Connacht SFC, making no fewer than five changes on the team to play Down in the Round 2 qualifier in Newry this evening (7.0).

Among those omitted from the team that lost by a point to Roscommon are goalkeeper Robert Hennelly, who loses out to double All-Star David Clarke in the latest twist in what has been a fascinating rivalry over a number of years.

Micheál Plunkett, Matthew Ruane, Fergal Boland and Evan Regan are also out, replaced by Colm Boyle, Andy Moran, Conor Loftus and Fionn McDonagh, who will be making his Championship debut.

It's a major statement of intent by Horan after the setback against Roscommon.

The Allianz League champions had targeted a first Connacht title since 2015, but were outmanoeuvred by Roscommon on home ground in Castlebar.

There's good news for Galway after the defeat by Roscommon last Sunday as Damien Comer returned to club action with Annaghdown last evening. He has been unable to play since injuring his ankle on St. Stephen's Day last year.

Meanwhile, Mick O'Dwyer has warned Kerry to be extremely wary of the challenge that Cork will present in this evening's Munster football final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (7.0).

The Kingdom are overwhelming favourites to win the title for a seventh successive year, but O'Dwyer believes that Cork will be much more of a threat than in the last two Munster titles.

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"Cork haven't been going well for a while, but they still have a lot of fine footballers who can come good at any time. Their pride has been hurt over the last few years so it will come as no surprise if they put in a big display. I expect Kerry to win, but it will be a lot tougher for them than people seem to think. You always need to be wary of Cork," he said.

Cork haven't beaten their great rivals in the championship for seven years, their longest losing run since going eight seasons without a win in 1977-'82 when O'Dwyer was presiding over the greatest era in Kerry football.

"Everyone in Kerry knows how dangerous Cork can be, even when their previous form hasn't been all that good. We have seen it down through the years. They rise to challenge of playing Kerry. They haven't done too well against Kerry in the last year or two, but you wouldn't want to be fooled by that. Every year is different and they will give this game a right go," said O'Dwyer.

Cork hit Limerick for 3-18 in the Munster semi-final, but despite that scoring burst they will need to show a massive improvement on their overall form to prevent Kerry becoming the second team to book in for the 'Super 8s' following Roscommon's win in last Sunday's Connacht final.

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