Mayo look to take the Kingdom on Sunday

GAA: All Ireland Football Championship

On the march: Aidan O'Shea will be looking to be a key part in a Mayo championship victory over Kerry on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

On the march: Aidan O'Shea will be looking to be a key part in a Mayo championship victory over Kerry on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

All roads lead to Killarney on Sunday for Mayo's debut bow at the Super Eight's stage of the All Ireland Senior Football Championship.

The meeting of Mayo and Kerry is the stand-out fixture of the four down for decision this weekend and its result will have serious ramifications for both sides future in the championship.

Mayo will follow this up with a meeting against Meath on Sunday week in Croke Park, followed by the visit of Ulster champions Donegal to MacHale Park a fortnight later to Castlebar.

The game could also be a historic one for Ballintubber attacker Cillian O'Connor, who is on course to become the overall top scorer in the championship's history. At present O'Connor has scored 23-279 from his 51 championship outings since his championship debut against London in 2011.

O'Connor currently sits just four points behind Kerry legend Colm 'Gooch' Cooper in the scoring charts and if he keeps up his scoring average of seven points a game in the championship he will surpass the five time All Ireland winner.

While this would be a massive personal achievement for the 27-year-old Mayo attacker, the overall result on Sunday will be the utmost in his and his team-mates minds going into this game.

Last Saturday's victory over Galway in the Gaelic Grounds got a number of monkeys off Mayo's back - with the Tribesmen having beaten Mayo in their last seven meetings across all competitions and Mayo not beating them in the championship since 2015 up to that game.

This will be the third time that Mayo and Kerry will have tangled this season, with Mayo winning in Tralee in the league meeting at the start of March and then again in the final of that competition in memorable style in Croke Park, to give Mayo their first national silverware since 2001 - when they won the same competition.

The team that took to the field in Limerick last Saturday showed five changes to the one that beat Kerry in Croke Park in the Spring, with David Clarke, Colm Boyle, Stephen Coen, Fionn McDonagh and Cillian O'Connor all coming into the starting line-up. Most of those changes were enforced by injury with both Matthew Ruane and Diarmuid O'Connor currently laid up - while Lee Keegan was just fit enough to take a place on the bench last weekend. McDonagh missed the latter stages of the league due to injury and the elder O'Connor only made his return to the Mayo colours for the year off the bench in the previous weeks outing against Armagh.

James Horan has shown over the past couple of games he is not afraid to mix things up ahead of each game, with a number of changes again last weekend from the team that was announced the night previously - so no matter what team is named in advance it will be only before throw in that we will know for sure which Mayo team will take to the field.

Kerry for their part saw off Clare with relative ease in the Munster semi-final before they were given a game for the first time in a long time by a rejuvenated looking Cork side in the Munster final, but still had enough class to see off the Rebels surge on Lee-side in that one.

A lot of eyes will be on how the Mayo attackers perform, O'Connor eased himself back into it last weekend scoring six points and putting in a typical all-action display. Darren Coen - who was a team-mate of O'Connor's when they were part of a Mayo minor team that went to the All Ireland minor final in 2009 - has been one of the revelations of the championship and he kicked three points from play and put in a hard-working performance, but will be disappointed with a couple of efforts he miscued.

James Carr has gone on to become a world wide internet sensation this week - thanks to his second goal against Galway gaining over 8.3 million views on the GAA's official Twitter account. But on Sunday the Ardagh man will be looking to replicate his showing against Kerry from the league final, where he chipped in with two points from play.

Getting off to a winning start will be an imperative for Mayo at this stage of the competition and that will be objective number one for James Horan and his charges.


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