Mayo start title defence tonight

GAA: Connacht JFC semi final

Mayo junior manager Sean McLoughlin will send his side out into championship action tonight. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo junior manager Sean McLoughlin will send his side out into championship action tonight. Photo: Sportsfile.

While the Mayo senior side have been consistently brilliant over the past few years, their junior counterparts have been just as consistent in recent times, having reached the last two All Ireland finals only to be beaten by Kerry in the final in Croke Park, they also reached the final of the 2012 edition of the competition only to be once again beaten by the men from the Kingdom, this time in Cusack Park.

In Charlestown this evening at 7pm, Sean McLoughlin will be once again in charge of the Mayo junior team who go looking for their first title in this grade in 20 years, since Billy Fitzmaurice's men saw off Kerry 2-8 to 1-10 in Ennis. The nature of the eligibility to play junior football differs for various counties, but Mayo players cannot have played senior club championship the year before or with the senior inter-county team the previous year. Last year's team was backboned by a number of players from Hollymount-Carramore who had won the previous years Mayo junior championship but are not available for selection this year. Unlike Mayo, their opponents this evening are able to pick any player not involved in their senior championship panel.

McLoughlin will be looking to rely on a number of players who have made their mark with the junior side over the past few years to be ready for action again tonight, with Michael Forde, Barry Duffy, Padraig Prendergast, Jason Forkan, Kevin Gibbons, James Carr and Conor Walsh all eligible players who could have a big impact at this level. If Mayo overcome the challenge of the Yeats County men they will have just five days to get ready for the Connacht final which is pencilled in for next Wednesday night against Leitrim, who beat Galway in their semi-final this day last week.

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