It is a quarter of a century since Mayo tangled with Kildare in the All Ireland Minor Football Championship, in their 1991 semifinal meeting Mayo emerged victorious on a score of 1-12 to 2-3 in Croke Park. On Monday afternoon O'Connor Park in Tullamore will be the venue for their next meeting in the minor championship, this time at the quarterfinal stage.
O'Connor Park was the venue for Mayo's All Ireland minor quarterfinal win over Westmeath four years ago en route to All Ireland glory, that was Mayo manager Enda Gilvarry's first year in charge of the side and he is heading back there on Monday hoping for more happy memories from the midlands venue.
Mayo head into the game on the back of a disappointing Connacht final loss to Galway in horrible conditions in Salthill three weeks ago. Mayo never got going that day and will be looking to have a major improvement come Monday, which is certainly within this team, but they will be up against it when they take on a Kildare side who blitzed Laois by 11 points in the Leinster final two weeks ago.
Kildare have put in a lot of work underage over recent times and their most recent provincal final appearence was their fourth in a row. Brendan Hackett's men were led in the scoring charts in their victory over Laois by corner forward Jimmy Hyland who scored seven points in the hour, while wing forward Jack Robinson chipped in with 1-1. Hyland's full forward line colleagues Brian McLoughlin and Ciaran Kelly chipped in with three points and two points respectively, which added up to a return of 0-12 from their inside line, and the Mayo full back line will need to be on top form to close off that avenue to goal.
The Mayo defensive cause was not helped last weekend when Kilmovee's Cathal Horan picked up a fractured jaw against Cork in a challenge game, leaving some defensive restructuring to be done by Gilvarry.Team captain Donovan Cosgrove and John Cunnane made up the rest of the full back line in the Connacht final against Galway.
In front of them the trio of Brian O'Malley, Matthew Macken, and John Maughan will be looking to improve on their outings in Salthill as they try to close down the Lilllywhites' three-quarters line. Mayo were also dealt an injury blow in the provincial final when Colm Murphy from Balla dislocated a knee cap just before half time, he was replaced that day by Castlebar's Conor Stenson and the Mitchels man is an able replacement if Murphy does not make it back for Monday.
Up front Mayo will be looking for a much better return than they got in their last championship game, Belmullet's Ryan O'Donoghue who was the star of their Connacht semifinal win over Leitrim, where he bagged a hat-trick, was forced to forage well out from his full forward berth against Galway for the ball, and Mayo will be looking to utilise him much closer to the posts this time around. The Westport trio of Paul Lamberty, Oisisn McLaughlin, and Colm Moran are other key attackers for Mayo on Monday, while Ross Egan and Nathan McGee will be chomping at the bit to get going on Monday.