Sunday 25 August 2019

Keegan misses out but Green-and-Red buoyed by inclusion of O'Connor and O'Shea for Galway clash

Cillian O'Connor of Mayo is congratulated by fans after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3 match between Mayo and Armagh at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cillian O'Connor of Mayo is congratulated by fans after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3 match between Mayo and Armagh at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Frank Roche

Aidan O'Shea has been named in the embattled Mayo engine-room for tomorrow night’s summer-defining ‘back-door’ showdown with Galway at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds.

Green-and-red diehards will also be encouraged by the inclusion of Cillian O’Connor, their former captain and all-time record scorer, for his first competitive start of 2019.

O’Connor’s second half cameo against Armagh, six days ago, was his first county appearance since undergoing knee surgery in December.

As widely expected, Lee Keegan misses out after being forced off in agony with an ankle injury last weekend.

Worries about O’Shea’s fitness flared up earlier this week when it emerged that he was wearing a protective boot on his right foot in the aftermath of Mayo’s edge-of-the-seat victory over the Orchard County.

This prompted conflicting reports about the midfield powerhouse’s likely involvement against Galway. But against the backdrop of a middle-eight injury crisis, manager James Horan has included O’Shea in the Mayo team announced this evening.

Mind you, O’Shea has yet another new midfield partner with Stephen Coen recalled at the expense of Mikey Murray, who made his full championship debut against Armagh in Castlebar.

This is one of four changes from the team that started that round three qualifier. The promoted quartet are Michael Plunkett at wing-back, Coen, O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin, who is rewarded for his crucial 1-1 contribution off the bench.

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The players losing out are the injured Keegan, Murray, Conor Loftus and former Footballer of the Year Andy Moran.

Given the intrigue and local enmity surrounding this derby collision, and the knowledge that Horan made several 11th hour switches from his official team last weekend, this announcement is unlikely to quell all speculation before tomorrow’s 7pm throw-in.

MAYO (SFC v Galway): D Clarke; C Barrett, B Harrison, K Higgins; P Durcan, C Boyle, M Plunkett; S Coen, A O'Shea; F McDonagh, J Doherty, C Treacy; C O'Connor, D Coen, K McLoughlin.

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