Both the Mayo senior football team and hurlers will finish up their league campaign’s with trips to Monaghan on Sunday afternoon. Last Sunday’s win by the footballers over Cork ensured their division one status for next year, while on Saturday the hurlers saw off the challenge of Sligo to keep their 100 per cent record intact. However anyone who hoped to travel to the Farney county and catch a double header of football and hurling action between the two counties will unable to do so, with the hurling team who have already booked their place in the division 3B final playing in Clones at 2.30pm and the footballers playing in Inniskeen, 40 miles away at the same time. All games in both the national hurling and football leagues will be throwing in at the same time on Sunday across all the divisions, the reason being that no team in any division will have an advantage knowing results that may affect them beforehand.
The Mayo senior football team along with Dublin find themselves in the unusual position of being the only two teams out of the eight in division one who have, realistically, nothing to play for. Mayo can’t make the league final or be relegated, and Dublin have already booked their place in the league final. Sunday’s opponents Monaghan are stuck to the bottom of the table on two points alongside Galway, with Armagh the other side in danger of making the drop depending on how results go.
With Sunday’s game a dead rubber apart from keeping up the momentum before the lay off until the London game at the end of May, Sunday’s encounter will offer James Horan a chance to run his eye over a few of the fringe squad players before it’s narrowed down for the summer action. After last Sunday’s game he admitted the same when he commented, “We’re going to try everything and develop and get good team together, we’re delighted to have retained division status. In a logical way we’ll try and do the same thing as we have been, there are a few guys who haven’t got a chance yet and we’ll try to do that and we’ll be going out there to go and win the game.”
Horan has been constant this year in changing his team around to give players a chance to stake a claim for the championship, with both Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor coming into last week’s side for their first starts in the league. So far in the seven games played Horan has started 28 different players starting all six games. The only mainstays of the starting 15 for each game have been Tom Cunnife, Ger Cafferkey, Kevin McLoughlin, Andy Moran and Alan Dillon. With both Cunnife and Dillon having to come off injured last Sunday, the number of players who started each game of the league could be only three. Coming back into the fray of late have been the injured duo of Barry Moran and Seamus O’Shea who have yet to feature in the league this year. Other players who could get a look in again include Keegan, Ruaidhrí O’Connor, Cillian O’Connor, James Burke and Enda Varley who have only started one game each in the league so far. The return of Moran and Seamus O’Shea strengthens Horan’s hand in the middle of the park, where so far he has already uses, Ronan McGarrity, Aidan O’Shea, Tom Parsons, Jason Gibbons and James Kilcullen in the middle of the park over the half a dozen games.
Horan will also be looking at his defensive options for the championship even though he was happy with the performance of his back six last Sunday after they didn’t concede a goal for the only the second time in the six games so far. After the game he said, “It’s always good to beat a high calibre team and it was a game we needed to win as well. We did a lot of good things in the game but we stopped playing a little bit in the second half, but that was always going to happen when Cork had the wind. We broke out of defence well, we weren’t going to let in any goals today. We had guys in there who played very well in defence today, their reputations were questioned after the Dublin game and all, it is a start and league game and two points.”
Hurlers in build up to final
The Mayo senior hurling team will be putting the finishing touches to their preparation for the division 3b national league final on Sunday week this weekend. With Monaghan who currently sit rooted to the bottom of the table the opponents, Murt Connelly’s men look in a good position to maintain their 100 per cent record going into the final. Last weekend they recorded another victory in the competition this time away to Sligo where they ran out 3-18 to 1-10 winners. Stephen Broderick was the main man in the scoring stakes for Mayo hitting eight points over the seventy minutes, with Stephen Hoban and Niall Murphy (2 ) chipping in with the goals. The winners of the game between Roscommon and Louth on Sunday will await Mayo in the final, which has been pencilled in for Sunday week in a neutral venue.