Both Mayo and their visitors from Kildare tomorrow night could badly do with getting a win under their belts. Mayo are coming off the back of three losses on the bounce, while Kieran McGeeney’s men are heading west after a morale sapping mauling by a rampant Dublin side last Sunday. It was their first defeat of the league, but a number of questions had been hanging over them, especially after a winless and roundly agreed out of sorts Kerry side nearly turned them over in Newbridge a fortnight before.
As for Mayo, the same questions that hung around their necks going into last Saturday night’s game in Páirc Esler in Newry remain today. They went a long period without scoring again. Cathal Carolan kicked his first and Mayo’s fourth point with 15 minutes gone on the clock and Mayo did not score again until five minutes into the second half when the same man swung over his second point of a three point haul. In the same time frame Down had rattled off six scores. That is 25 minutes Mayo went without a score in the contest. They also turned over the ball far too often and kicked the ball down the throat of one of the Down covering defender’s throats, as they tried to get the ball into the full forward line. Down set up their defence to clog up the Mayo attacking threat in their own half and Mayo were not able to unpick that particular lock. Mayo also failed to take goal chances when they presented themselves. Barry Moran, who had a fine game in midfield, missed the one gilt-edged chance, three minutes into the second half. Mayo have only hit one three-pointer so far this season in the league and that came from the boot of a defender (Keith Higgins’ late strike that sparked the comeback against Tyrone ). It is something that Mayo must improve on. Mayo have three games left in this year’s league campaign and none of them is by any way or means, wins they can be counting on as they try to keep out of relegation trouble.
Kildare will be dangerous opponents
Tomorrow night’s visitors have already taken the scalp of two of Mayo’s future opponents seeing off All Ireland champions Donegal in their league opener in Croke Park and then taking the points back home from Páirc Uí Rinn against league champions Cork. McGeeney’s men have rattled up an impressive score of 8-39 (63 points ) in the plus section of their scoring difference chart over their four games, bagging two goals in each of the games. Something that Mayo’s defence will need to be very wary of tomorrow night. They have conceded three goals in three of their games, with Kerry the only side not to find the back of their net. Mayo have proven goalscorers in the shape of Jason Doherty and Michael Conroy, but neither has yet to find his range in this league campaign so far.
Former Cavan man Seanie Johnston has been the Lilywhites leading man in attack in their last two outings, scoring 1-3 against Kerry and 1-2 against the Dubs, while the ageless Johnny Doyle has scored 2-9 over his side’s four games so far. In the game against Donegal the Allanwood man scored 1-5 and added in another 1-2 against Kerry. Niall Kelly is another who has been a regular on the scoreboard for McGeeney’s side, kicking 0-3 against Donegal and scoring one of their goals against Cork and getting on the score sheet against Kerry.
Perfect ten starters for Mayo so far
As for Mayo’s line up tomorrow night, the team had not been released at the time of going to print but wholesale changes are not very likely. In this year’s league run so far James Horan has used 25 players, with 10 players starting every game so far, defenders Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle, and Chris Barrett. Aidan O’Shea is another ever present starter (one of them was at centre half forward ). Lee Keegan has started all four games too, splitting his starting positions evenly between attack and defence, while Richie Feeney, Michael Conroy, Kevin McLoughlin, and Jason Doherty started all the games so far in the forward division. Other players who have appeared in all four games are Barry Moran and Tom Cunniffe, who have both started two games and both come on as subs in two games each, while goalkeepers David Clarke and Kenneth O’Malley have split the game time between the posts so far. Whoever gets the nod tomorrow evening, a win is a must as Mayo head into the final furlong of this year’s league race.
You can read all about Saturday night’s action in this game and the Mayo hurlers’ tussle with Armagh on our website, www.advertiser.ie/mayo/section/sport on Saturday night.