Mayo are ready for Rossies challenge

GAA: National Football League

Scoring threat: Cillian O'Connor has been kicking the points for Mayo so far this year. Photo: Sportsfile

Scoring threat: Cillian O'Connor has been kicking the points for Mayo so far this year. Photo: Sportsfile

Following their victory on the road in Tralee a fortnight ago, all eyes will be turned to MacHale Park tomorrow evening when Mayo host Roscommon in the third round of the National Football League. Whenever these sides meet, be it in pre-season competition on wet and boggy fields or in the height of summer, there is never an inch given by either side and tomorrow night's encounter is expected to be a similar encounter.

Mayo will head into the game, with a pep-in-their-step following their come-from-behind win in the previous round, while Roscommon will feel they left victory behind them against Donegal in their last outing at home. That defeat came on the back of an opening day loss to Tyrone in Healy Park. Stephen Rochford has had to plan for the game without the services of Tom Parsons whose suspension following picking up a red card late on against Kerry was confirmed last week by the GAA, but his choices were further complicated by the news that Danny Kirby will also be suspended for the game following a decision by the GAA this week. Rochford's midfield choices had already been limited as both Seamus and Aidan O'Shea are out of the reckoning due to injury, and the loss of Parsons and Kirby has further reduced his choices in that sector.

Following last weekend's victory in the All Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final, Lee Keegan will be available for Mayo again, should Rochford choose to call back last year's player of the year just six days after that final, but definitely out of action is Kevin Keane, who has been ruled out of football for the rest of the year after he picked up an anterior cruciate ligament injury, just 11 minutes into the All Ireland final. There was better news on the defensive side of things with Brendan Harrision expected to be available for action for the first time this year. He underwent surgery on a hip problem after last year's All Ireland final replay and has not appeared for Mayo yet this season.

The sides have already met this year in the FBD League, where a brace of Andy Moran goals from sub in injury time saw Mayo steal a victory at the end. The Mayo side who started that day showed six changes from the side who lined out against Kerry in their last outing, with five of the starting six forwards against Kerry also starting the FBD encounter, with Andy Moran coming in for Liam Irwin to join what looks like a very settled early year attacking six for Mayo. At the back, Donie Newcombe, who has impressed so far this year, after getting his chance to show what he has, Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen, and David Drake all started both of those games.

Mayo will be looking for a better return on the scoreboard from their entire attacking unit with Cillian O'Connor accounting for 16 points of the 27 that Mayo have scored over the last two games. Andy Moran is the next highest scorer with three points, and Evan Regan and Kevin McLoughlin next in the scoring charts with two points each. In total Mayo have had just eight different scorers in their opening two games. O'Connor has contributed just under 60 per cent of Mayo's scores and 87.5 per cent of those have been from placed balls. In total 55.5 per cent of Mayo's scores across the those two games have come from placed balls, with Evan Regan kicking one point from a free in the Monaghan game to go with the 14 frees converted by O'Connor. The game throws in at 7pm, tomorrow evening, in MacHale Park.

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