Seamie O’Shea: Mayo now peaking for Kerry challenge

Mayo will be taking on “the form team in the country” when they cross swords with Kerry in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday week next.

Seamie O’Shea: Mayo now peaking for Kerry challenge

That’s according to experienced Mayo midfielder Seamie O’Shea, who has described the prospect of trying to beat the Munster champions as “a massive challenge”.

Speaking after Mayo’s facile 22-point win over Roscommon in the quarter-final replay on Monday, O’Shea admitted that Kerry would be a totally different proposition.

“They’re probably the form team in the country. They’re league champions, have been playing very well, haven’t been tested at all really yet this year, so it’ll be a massive challenge, but that’s what’s ahead of us now. We’ll put the head down over the next few weeks and try and get ready for it.”

The upcoming semi-final will be Mayo’s eighth game of a marathon championship campaign, which has also included extra-time qualifier wins over Derry and Cork, as well as two matches against Roscommon.

However, O’Shea believes Mayo may be finding good form at just the right time.

“The plan wasn’t to go through the qualifiers, that’s for sure, but the plan is always to try and peak at this time of year. Whatever way you get to August or September, the plan is always to keep your biggest performances for this time of year. Whether by accident or design, hopefully we’re doing that anyway.

“That was probably our first proper performance,” he said of the clash with Roscommon. “It’s been a while coming so it was good to get it out of us.

“We didn’t do too much last week, we took it handy on Wednesday night, just trying to stay fresh, because we’ve played a lot of games over the last while, so, we took it easy and felt good out there.”

Meanwhile, Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan will be fit to line out in the repeat of the 2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final. The four-time All Star missed Mayo’s record-breaking win over Roscommon on Monday due to an infection in his foot.

Keegan was hospitalised for a number of days last week with the condition and had not recovered sufficiently in time to line out against the Connacht champions. It was the first time in six years that the Westport defender hadn’t played any part in a Mayo championship game.

“Lee would have been available if needed going into the final 20 or 25 minutes,” said Mayo manager Stephen Rochford.

“He had made a really, really good recovery, so it’s an opportunity to acknowledge our own medical team and the medical team in Mayo General Hospital for the good work they did with him.”

Mayo were reporting no other injury worries after Monday’s game, though Chris Barrett did receive a number of stitches to a cut on his head after a collision in the first half.

Mayo return to training this week to begin preparations for their seventh successive All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

Among those aiming to force their way back into Rochford’s match-day squad of 26 will be Conor O’Shea and Barry Moran, who have both recovered from their respective shoulder and Achilles injuries.

  • The GAA has confirmed the dates for the two International Rules tests in Australia later this year. The first of two tests will be played on Sunday Nov 12 at Adelaide Oval. The second game will be the following Saturday night, Nov 18, at the Domain Stadium, Perth.

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