Injuries pile up for Mayo ahead of Armagh visit

GAA: All Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifier

Photo: Sportsfile

Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo's midfield injury crisis continued to mount this week with Diarmuid O'Connor fracturing his wrist in training on Tuesday night.

The Mayo captain had switched from the half-forward line to the number eight shirt for last weekend's round two qualifier win over Down, after Matthew Ruane broke his collarbone in the lead up to the Down game - also during training.

The Ballintubber clubman is expected to be ruled out of action for the remainder of Mayo's involvement in the championship and with the likes of Seamus O'Shea and Donal Vaughan still working their way back to fitness and neither being included in the match day 26 last weekend - the loss of O'Connor compounded on the loss of Ruane, leaves a big hole for Mayo to fill.

Ballina's Mikey Murray who made his Mayo championship debut off the bench late last Saturday evening could be in line for a spot alongside Aidan O'Shea, while Stephen Coen is another option the Mayo management will be exploring for Saturday night.

Getting the right balance in the middle sector alongside O'Shea will be paramount to the selection decision made by James Horan and his backroom team for Saturday evening's game. It could see the rigging of the Mayo half back line with Lee Keegan shifted out to the middle of the park to keep tabs on Armagh's impressive Jaralth Og Burns, who has been in flying form this Summer.

Shortly after news of O'Connor's injury breaking on Wednesday morning, the Mayo GAA county board issued a statement confirming the injury and also saying that Donal Vaughan, Seamus O'Shea, James Carr and Ger Cafferkey all took a full part in the training session - none of the four made the match day 26 for last Saturday evening's game against Down.

Since his return to the manager's role James Horan has not been shy in making changes to his starting 15 for games from the previous one. While some have been injury enforced - if you look back on their last five competitive outings, Mayo made five changes for the Down game, compared to the side who lost to Roscommon in the Connacht semi-final, they made three changes ahead of the Roscommon game from the team that took to the field against New York; there were two changes to the team that beat Kerry in the league final for the New York game, in the aforementioned league final he made five changes from the team that defeated Monaghan to book Mayo's spot in that final and for that Monaghan game he made six changes to the side that had beaten Kerry in Tralee the round before.

Mayo's opponents on Saturday evening had the stand-out victory of last weekend's qualifier games, seeing off last year's All Ireland semi-finalists Monaghan in Clones by eight points. The victory of Kieran McGeaney's men was back-boned by a 2-1 haul hit by their full forward Rian O'Neill, while the mercurial Jamie Clarke chipped in with three points and Jarlath Og Burns and Jemar Hall both scored two points each.

The array of scores the Orchard county had last weekend is something Mayo will be looking to stop tomorrow night, McGeaney's side had 13 different players from the 18 that saw action kick scores against Monaghan.

Armagh disposed of Mayo's Down victim in the quarter-finals of the Ulster championship back in May, before bringing Cavan to a replay in the semi-final, before eventually succumbing to the Breffni men on a scoreline of 0-23 to 0-17.

The Orchard county have been heavy scorers in their championship games to date this year, scoring 5-65 in their four outings, all of which so far have been against fellow Ulster sides. Rian O'Neill has been their stand-out forward in the championship with the Crossmaglen man having 2-19 to his name already - whoever is deployed to mark him tomorrow night will have to be on top of their game.

Down punched a number of holes in the Mayo defence last Saturday night and could probably have hit a second goal not long before Mayo scored theirs - only for Caolan Mooney to see his effort fly over David Clarke's bar. If Armagh get those types of chances and with the quality of forwards they seem to possess - it could spell big trouble for Mayo tomorrow night.

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