The distraction of Wednesday’s news that Conor Mortimer has decided to leave the Mayo senior panel is the last thing that Mayo manager James Horan will have wanted ahead of Sunday’s Connacht final showdown with Sligo in Hyde Park. Horan’s side had only just been announced by the county board online and through traditional methods a matter of hours when news broke of Mortimer’s decision to leave the panel, bringing the eye of the national and local media on Mayo ahead of Sunday for reasons other than what happens on the field. Mortimer being the second member of the panel to make themselves unavailable for Mayo in a matter of weeks, following Robert Hennelly’s decision leave the panel due to work commitments a few weeks ago.
Varley one change from semi-final win
As for the on field issues, James Horan has made only one change from the side that lined out against, Leitrim in last month’s Connacht semi-final win. Garrymore’s Enda Varley earns a recall in the number 13 shirt in place on Aghamore’s Alan Freeman. Varley came off the bench in the semi-final late on against Leitrim and managed to score a point for his efforts.
Horan’s selection sees Danny Geraghty and Barry Moran keep hold of the midfield slots for the second game on the bounce with Cillian O’Connor holding on to the number 11 shirt and captain Andy Moran stationed at the edge of the square. Donal Vaughan will be the lynchpin of the defence at centre-half-back, but as Lee Keegan has proved this year, he’s more than capable of managing that spot if required during the game. Horan’s selection is as you would expect, with the selection of Varley ahead of the likes of Michael Conroy or the now departed Mortimer the one major talking point. James Horan hasn’t named his subs bench yet, but he is expected to include Aidan O’Shea in his replacements. The Breaffy man came through the full 60 minutes of a club championship match a fortnight ago along with training with the county. However Horan is likely to be without the likes of Pat Harte, Peader Gardiner and Aidan Campbell due to injury.
Sunday will also represent a first Connacht senior final start for Westport duo Kevin Keane and Lee Keegan who have nailed down spots in the starting 15 this year, while Colm Boyle will be hoping for better luck than his last start in a provincial decider in 2008 against Galway. Only seven of Sunday’s side started the 2010 defeat to Sligo in the preliminary round of the championship in Markievicz Park, with Barry Moran also making an appearance in that game against the Yeats county men.
Sligo playing from full deck
As for Sligo they have won only eight of their 57 championship meetings with Mayo in history. They have had the scenic route to this years Connacht final starting off in New York, before shocking Galway in Salthill in their semi-final win. Manager Kevin Walsh will be going into Sunday’s game with a fully fit squad, with sharp shooter David Kelly back to full fitness after missing most of the league. Full forward Adrian Marren scored 2-6 in their semi-final win and will need watching by Ger Cafferkey at full back, while the third man in the full forward line Mark Breheny is no slouch either. Alan Costello will be out to impress again against his native county in the half forward line, while Shane McManus and Tony Taylor will be battling it out with Moran and Geraghty in the middle of the park. Taylor is the one change to the Sligo starting 15 from their semi-final win and he replaces Eugene Mullin in the middle of the park.