John Fogarty considers the selection issues facing the Kerry and Mayo management teams ahead of Sunday’s All -Ireland SFC semi-final.
Twelve of the Kerry team that started against Galway the last day also began the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final replay win over Mayo, the same
attack on both occasions.
Éamonn Fitzmaurice is not as adverse as Jack O’Connor in giving new blood a go and he certainly isn’t conservative in shaping a team, but he is slightly when it comes to personnel.
However, there is usually a time and a place to experiment and he sees both coming earlier in the season.
Fitzmaurice will want defensively minded half- forwards to help shore up the gaps in slowing down Mayo’s runners so the most obvious change is Kevin McCarthy, if fit, or Stephen O’Brien for Michael Geaney, who was substituted early against Galway.
However, there is a growing argument that O’Brien is best kept in reserve. Killian Young might edge his way into the starting line-up ahead of Fionn Fitzgerald, while Jack Barry’s
athleticism with Tom Parsons to consider, could keep him ahead of Anthony Maher.
Stephen Rochford was obviously diplomatic as he was euphemistic about fit-again Lee Keegan providing him with more options in the run-up to this semi-final.
Last year’s footballer of the year will return to the starting team, the question being who will lose out as a result of his comeback.
Of the team that started against Roscommon in the replay, the most likely candidates would appear to be Donie Vaughan or Jason Doherty.
The replay was the first time the pair started a game alongside each other this summer. Vaughan might be kept with Kieran Donaghy in mind and providing another strong runner, but Doherty’s form has been decent even if he hasn’t always looked completely fit.
There is a slim chance Ger Cafferkey may return although many in Mayo believe Rochford discovered his best line-up, bar Keegan, last Monday week.
Followed by Tyrone, Mayo are the ultimate horses-for-courses team but this will be an occasion when they will want to impose themselves on Kerry.
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