Tony Duffy is in his third year as Mayo minor manager and on Sunday he’s looking for his latest batch of minors to pick up a second provincial crown in those three years. This year Mayo will have to do it the hard way by going to the their opponents backyard to win the title.
Mayo made their way to the final thanks to a 1-6 to 0-6 win over a fancied Sligo side in the Connacht semi-final. Mayo came through that game thanks in the most part to a good first-half performance, when they went in leading by 1-4 to 0-1 at the break. But a similar return of only 0-2 in the second half on Sunday lunch time will probably not be good enough against a Roscommon side who are going into the game as bookies favourites to go into the All Ireland quarter finals as Connacht champions. In the semi-final win flying half-back Michael Plunkett picked up the man of the match award and a similar display from the Ballintubber man would be a great boost to Mayo.
Another of the defenders to catch the eye on that day was Mayo Gaels corner back Kevin Lynch whose style of play had an uncanny resemblance to that of senior star Keith Higgins. Lynch’s clubmate Adam Gallagher was the leading scorer for Mayo the last day from midfield playing the captain’s role. Another big performance will be needed from him if Mayo are to take the title. Up front the likes of Shane Hennelly, Diarmuid O’Connor, Séan Regan, and Eoghan Lavin, have the potential to be big players for Mayo but they will all need to be on their game.
As for Roscommon, Garreth Carroll’s side had a facile win over Leitrim in the quarter-final, but were put to the pin of their collar by Galway in a semi-final that went all the way to extra time. Ultan Harney and Thomas Corcoran have formed a formidable midfield pairing that will put it up to Gallagher and Brian Mullen. Corner forward Diarmuid Murthagh was top scorer for Roscommon with six points in their semi-final win, and a lot is also expected from the likes of Enda Smith and Michael Gunning from the Rossie faithful. At the back, Ronan Daly, along with Conor Hussey, had good games against Galway in the half back line, while Dennis Barron and Cathal Kenny will be the mainstays of the full back line.
At this grade it’s always hard to predict how the big day will affect the players, but Duffy will have his side well keyed-up and ready for action come the noon throw in on Sunday afternoon.