Sunday 25 August 2019

James McCarthy certain to start with Diarmuid Connolly set for bench role

McCarthy returns but Connolly poised to start on the bench in sold-out semi-final showdown

Michael Darragh MacAuley in action for Dublin. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Darragh MacAuley in action for Dublin. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

Jim Gavin has two selection issues to finalise ahead of tomorrow's sold-out All-Ireland SFC semi-final clash with Mayo in Croke Park.

James McCarthy is certain to start but whether he plays in defence or midfield will remain a mystery until 5.0 tomorrow evening.

If Gavin elects to play McCarthy in midfield, the likelihood is that Cian O'Sullivan will return to the side at centre-back having sat out Dublin's last two matches, with Michael Darragh Macauley losing out in the reshuffle.

Macauley has enjoyed his most productive championship in years, scoring three goals in six games, although Gavin may prefer to utilise his destructive running late on against Mayo.

The Dublin manager also has a significant call to make in his full-back line.

David Byrne is the only player to start five of Dublin's championship matches so far this summer but he could now lose out to the more experienced trio of Mick Fitzsimons, Philly McMahon and the fit-again Jonny Cooper.

Diarmuid Connolly is in line for a place on the bench after his comeback in Omagh last week, while St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh clubmates Bernard Brogan and Seán Bugler both made claims for substitute roles in Dublin's facile victory over Tyrone.

James Horan, meanwhile, will have to make at least one change to the Mayo starting 15 following confirmation of Jason Doherty's cruciate ligament injury on Wednesday.

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The experienced Kevin McLoughlin is in line to come in as a direct replacement, although Horan could also opt to start 2017 Footballer of the Year Andy Moran in an attacking reshuffle.

Robbie Hennelly, controversially selected for the 2016 All-Ireland final replay ahead of All-Star goalkeeper David Clarke, is set to retain the number one jersey.

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