Kerry to pose another serious set of questions for Mayo

GAA: National Football League

On the charge: Aidan O'Shea was named as Mayo captain for the coming year last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

On the charge: Aidan O'Shea was named as Mayo captain for the coming year last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Tomorrow night the focus on Mayo GAA will firmly be where it belongs - on the action on the field - when Kerry come to Castlebar in this crunch National Football League division one clash.

Mayo are looking to get their season moving in the right direction, with three points on the board from their four games to date, while Kerry are two points better off, having won two, drawn one and lost once, so far this term.

Last weekend's nine point loss to Monaghan on the road in Clones is something that James Horan and his squad will have been working out of their system this week ahead of the visit of last year's beaten All Ireland finalists.

The size of the defeat was magnified when Mayo went down to 14 men midway through the second half, Monaghan had been playing well but Mayo were still in the game at that stage and the loss of a player on the field was ruthlessly exposed by a well drilled and flying fit Monaghan side; if something similar happens tomorrow night - there are few better teams in the country than Kerry of exposing such an advantage.

James Horan continued to have a look at his available players with the likes of Darren Coen coming into the team for his first start of the season last Sunday and the Hollymount-Carramore marksman hit three fine points from play; he did fluff a couple of efforts but as he proved last year, with a run of games under his belt, Coen can be big scoring forward for Mayo.

Another player who will have piqued the interest of the Mayo faithful was the debut of Charlestown's Paul Towey, who came off the bench last Sunday; he got little more than ten minutes of game time but he did kick a wonderful score, cutting across the ball with the outside of his boot. Those who were in Castlebar a few weeks ago for the Connacht u20 semi-final loss to Galway will have seen Towey put in a man-of-the-match performance in defeat when he kicked points for fun.

Keith Higgins also got some game time into his legs coming off the bench, the Ballyhunais man will be a key player for Mayo again this season, you would feel, and getting him up to fighting match fitness will be something that Mayo will be looking to get done over the next while.

One other area that Mayo will be looking to improve on is creating goal scoring chances - while Monaghan took two last weekend and created a few more, Mayo never really looked like they were going to be able to break through the Farney men's rearguard to get in for a three point effort.

The visitors come into the game on the back of a solid if un-spectactular four point win over Meath last Sunday. They were led on the scoreboard by the twin threats of David Clifford, who hit 1-3 and Sean O'Shea, who landed half-a-dozen points from placed balls in that contest.

So far this year Kerry have drawn with All Ireland champions Dublin on the opening night of the league, in round two they became the only side to clip the wings of high-flying Galway, edging them out by a single point on a score of 1-15 to 2-11 Tralee. They were surprisingly turned over by Tyrone in round three in a game that had to be played in Edendork on short notice due to the weather and last week saw off Meath.

After tomorrow night's game Mayo will have a weekend off before they make the short trip to Galway on Sunday, March 15 and then will wrap up the league with a home tie against Monaghan the following Sunday in MacHale Park. They have been in relegation battles before and got themselves out of them - so this is not unfamiliar territory for them to navigate successfully.

 

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