Everyone is still recovering from the great escape in Ruislip last Sunday, when Mayo were put to the pin of their collar by London in the Connacht Senior Championship. This Friday offers a welcome distraction in the form of the Connacht Junior Championship final in Charlestown which will throw in at 7.30pm. This evening’s game will offer Mayo the chance to dethrone the current All Ireland champions from the Yeats County, who will be under the guidance once again of their senior inter-county manager Kevin Walsh. Mayo for their part have John Kelly running the line for them, with Ray Connelly, Jarlath Cunningham and Vinny Gavin also on sideline duties. In the quarter final Mayo saw off the challenge of a tough Leitrim side after Mickey Moran’s side pushed into an early lead, while in the last four of the competition Roscommon were defeated in Ballyhaunis.
However that win over Roscommon came at a cost, with Michael Forde from Ballycastle, who had been one of the stand-out players against both Leitrim and Roscommon, coming off with a shoulder injury; Forde’s form had seen him drafted in for training with the Mayo senior squad at that point. But the roster has been boosted with the addition of David Kilcullen to the set up. The Ballaghaderreen man has had experience with the senior set up in the past and is eligible to line out for Mayo as he didn’t play with Ballaghaderreen in the county senior championship last season. Another player to come into contention recently is Burrishoole’s James Moran, who stared for his club in their run to last year’s Mayo Intermediate Championship final. He put in a number of eye-catching displays that saw him called up to James Horan’s senior squad earlier in the year. Swinford’s Colin Dempsey, who top scored in both the quarter-final and semi-final, will be one of the main men for Mayo in attack along with Davitts sharpshooter Michael Conroy who, seven years ago, managed to hit the back of the net for Mayo in the All Ireland senior final against Kerry. Other players who will be key to Mayo’s challenge include Islandeady defender Ollie Feeney, Davitts wing back Colm Boyle and Balla’s Connor Walsh. There is a doubt over the fitness of centre half forward James McAndrew going into the game, but Kelly’s men have proven to be a very resourceful side this year already when the chips are down, most notably on the first day out against Leitrim in the quarter-final. It’s been a couple of years since Mayo last claimed this title and this evening they have the look of a team who will be celebrating a Connacht title win come about 9pm.
Many questions ahead of Galway clash
Last weekend’s extra time win over London in Ruislip has raised many questions amongst Mayo GAA supporters as to the potential of this side to win a Connacht title this year. With just over three weeks left until Galway come to McHale Park in the semi-final, James Horan and his management team will be working hard to ensure that the lessons have been learned from last weekend’s game. With the club championships getting down to action next weekend in Mayo a number of players will be given the opportunity to put their hands up to try and stake a claim for a place in the starting 15 come the visit of Galway. To read what our columnist John Maughan thinks about the events of last weekend just go to page 47.