Maughan needs to invigorate his U21 troops

John Maughan takes his Mayo charges to Croke Park today for an All-Ireland football final for the second time in six days - the question is, can he lift them after last week?

John Maughan takes his Mayo charges to Croke Park today for an All-Ireland football final for the second time in six days - the question is, can he lift them after last week?

Mayo failed to deliver in the senior final against Kerry last weekend, and Maughan is tasked with re-invigorating his U21 side, which includes 10 senior panellists, to produce the goods against Armagh at Breffni Park (4pm).

Meanwhile, the northerners have never reached the final in this grade, but inexperience didn't cost them two years ago when the Orchard County captured its first ever senior title.

Orchard boss Peter Rafferty has made no changes to his team, which means Armagh Harps teenager Gareth Swift retains his place in the middle of the park.

It had been thought that Rafferty would recall Shane O'Neill, who missed the 1-19 to 2-10 semi-final win over Cork through injury. However, a storming second-half display by Swift against the Rebels has earned him the right to start today.

Ciaran McKeever captains the team from centre-back, while senior squad members Andy Mallon and Brian Mallon are chosen at left corner-back and forward respectively.

Senior panellists Stephen and Aaron Kernan, sons of manager Joe, are at right half-back and centre-forward respectively.

Rafferty is expecting a tough fight against the westerners, in spite of their hugely disappointing loss last Sunday.

Attacker Michael McNamee, who scored 1-2 in the first six minutes against the Rebels, will provide a tought test for Mayo's defence.

With that in mind, John Maughan has made three changes to his side for today, one of which is in defence.

Stephen Drake comes in at left wing-back for Richard Feeney, while Chris Barrett gets the nod at midfield. Ronan McNamara moves from there to the forty. Niall Lydon is the player who makes way.

Aidan Kilcoyne is chosen at right half-forward, with Andy Moran moving to the other wing, and Paul Doherty drops to the bench.

Maughan will have to lift his charges, but with 10 senior panellists like wounded animals going into today's tussle, Armagh should expect a backlash.

ARMAGH (U21FC v Mayo): P Wilson; G Smyth, F Moriarty, A Mallon; A Kernan, C McKeever, B McDonald; M Mackin, G Swift, G Loughran, S Kernan, P Toal; M McNamee, R Austin, B Mallon.

MAYO (U21FC v Armagh): F Ruddy; D Geraghty, P Navin, T Howley; M Carey, L O’Malley, S Drake; B Moran, C Barrett; A Kilcoyne, R McNamara, A Moran; A Costello, D Munnelly, M Conroy.

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