Lee Keegan blow for Mayo ahead of crunch Galway derby duel in Limerick
Lee Keegan looks almost certain to sit out Mayo's do-or-die All-Ireland SFC Round 4 qualifier clash with Galway on Saturday, after limping out of their one-point defeat of Armagh last weekend.
The 2016 Footballer of the Year is understood to have suffered ankle ligament damage which will force him to the sidelines, in what would be another huge setback for James Horan's side.
Keegan was forced off in first-half injury time and it is believed the seven-day turnaround will be much too quick given the severity of the injury, as Horan's injury crisis deepens ahead of a meeting with their great rivals.
Captain Diarmuid O'Connor, Matthew Ruane, Seamus O'Shea and Tom Parsons are already on the casualty list, while major doubts over Keegan are further compounded by doubts over Jason Doherty (ankle).
"As with any injury or medical intervention, the privacy and confidentiality from a medical perspective is important for the players in allowing them the time for a full recovery. We will monitor their progress closely over the coming weeks," a Mayo statement said of the pair's injuries.
The LIT Gaelic Grounds was chosen to host the blockbuster tie after Dr Hyde Park wasn't deemed "capable" by the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee.
Both sets of supporters face a longer trip to Limerick than they would have to Roscommon, but in a statement Croke Park confirmed that there was "no other Connacht venue deemed capable of catering for the expected interest in the tie" and that both counties were consulted and agreed to the Treaty venue.
"Efforts to fix the Galway-Mayo game for a Connacht venue were not feasible as there was no agreement between the counties to toss for home advantage, and there was no other Connacht venue deemed capable of catering for the expected interest in the tie," read the statement. "Both counties were consulted and agreed to the Limerick venue, which has a capacity of 43,000 with 20,000 seats."
The last Championship match between the sides - the 2018 Connacht semi-final in Castlebar - brought just under 30,000 people to MacHale Park, well below the capacity in Limerick, but it is expected to attract a big interest.
However, Dr Hyde Park had its capacity reduced to less than 19,000 when it hosted the Connacht final last year with authorities hinting at a reluctance to host major matches there until work was carried out, including completing a new entrance in front of the terrace on the Athlone Road side, installing permanent metered turnstiles and the construction of dressing rooms to modern standards.
The all-Connacht clash will instead go ahead in Limerick and be televised live by Sky Sports as part of a double-header that will also feature the Tyrone-Cavan game in Clones, which throws in at 5pm.
Cork will face Laois at the same time in Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday, while Meath and Clare will battle it out to take the final spot in the Super 8s on Sunday afternoon when they face off in O’Moore Park at 2pm.
This is the second year of the three-year Super 8s experiment, with the groups being decided on a rotational basis. Last year paired the Munster and Connacht champions with the Ulster and Leinster runners-up or the qualifier team that beats them in Round 4.
This year sees the Munster and Ulster winners drawn with the Leinster and Connacht runners up or the team that beats them. There was a change to the format of the Super 8s this year with the provincial winners granted home advantage in the first round of matches.
Meanwhile, the GAA also confirmed the times, dates and venues for the All-Ireland preliminary hurling quarter-finals which pits the Joe McDonagh cup finalists against the Munster and Leinster championships’ qualifiers.
The McDonagh finalists are given home advantage with this year’s champions, Laois, facing the third-placed Leinster team, Dublin, in Portlaoise on Sunday (throw-in 4.15) as last year’s winners Carlow took on third place Munster team, Limerick.