Mayo need to make their point

GAA: National Football League

On the run: Kevin McLoughlin kicked a dramatic winner for Mayo last weekend, will they need him to do the same on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile.

On the run: Kevin McLoughlin kicked a dramatic winner for Mayo last weekend, will they need him to do the same on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile.

Almost anything can happen this weekend in division one of the national football league, but there is one thing that Mayo need to see happen. Take at least a point from their game against Donegal and they can be assured of top flight football, simple as that. There are lots of other permutations and combinations that can see Mayo stay up, go down, or even end up in the league final as distant a possability that is.

While we are here, we are as well to go through the permutations and combinations: Mayo will be safe if they win or draw their game with Donegal. They will be relegated if they lose and Cavan beat Roscommon or if they lose and Kerry lose and Cavan win with a 15-point swing in scoring difference over Mayo's defeat. They can reach the final if they beat Donegal by nine points or more and Monaghan lose by two points along with Tyrone and Kerry drawing their game. Or if they beat Donegal by 13 points or more along with Kerry beating Tyrone and Monaghan getting beaten by Dublin.

Last weekend's victory over Tyrone was a heartening win for Mayo supporters and they'll be out in the droves again on Sunday, with so much on the line for the senior side. Getting any sort of a positive result against a very impressive Donegal outfit is no easy task at any stage and with the pressure on come Sunday, Mayo will be looking for their experienced leaders to get them over the line come 5pm.

Earlier this week Mayo GAA issued a injury update after both Cillian O'Connor and Donal Vaughan took heavy blows to the head in the closing stages of their win over Tyrone, with both players passing SCAT 3 head injury assessments and neither showing any delayed concussion symptoms. This will be welcome news to Mayo supporters with O'Connor in particular looking very groggy as he tried to get to his feet after taking a hit from a Tyrone sub. Other good news for Mayo's long term progress was that both Ger Cafferkey and Seamus O'Shea played club games for both Ballina Stephenites and Breaffy respectively as they battle back to full fitness, the progress of the pair along with the return for the first time this year of Aidan O'Shea and Chris Barrett last week - boosting Mayo's selection choices, along with the return to action after short injury lay-offs of Jason Doherty and Diarmuid O'Connor.

Predicting the starting line-up that Stephen Rochford is going to put out, has fast become a tough task. Last weekend he threw in two changes to the side he named on Friday night, promoting both Shane Nally and David Drake to the starting 15 from the bench. The addition of the two nominal half-backs gave Mayo the tools they needed to take down Mickey Harte's men adding some extra defensive cover along with the potential to kick scores from distance from Nally in particular and the Garrymore man did land a brilliant score in the early exchanges.

Will Rochford be tempted to throw Aidan O'Shea into the game from the start to provide some extra support to Andy Moran who has been working manfully in the full forward line trying to win possession in their all season? Or maybe the younger O'Connor's strong running style could be what Mayo need to try and break through the banked defence that Rory Gallagher's side is expected to put out on Sunday. With so much on the line for Mayo, who have the longest current run in the top division to try and maintain, having been there for over 20 years now at this stage. Will they be taking on Louth come next Spring or the more glamorous tests from the likes of Dublin or Donegal? We'll find out on Sunday evening.

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