Mayo's championship hopes have suffered a serious setback with the news that captain Diarmuid O'Connor has been ruled out for the remainder of the summer with a fractured wrist.
The 24-year old damaged his wrist at training yesterday evening and is expected to undergo surgery to repair the damage in the coming days.
O'Connor is the second Mayo footballer this month to be sidelined by a training ground injury, with Matthew Ruane having recently dislocated his shoulder.
O'Connor's injury, arriving as it does just four days out from the county's third-round qualifier at home to Armagh (Saturday, 7pm), leaves James Horan's midfield options threadbare. Tom Parsons (knee) has not played a competitive game in over a year, while Seamie O'Shea (ankle) last lined out for Mayo in the league defeat to Dublin at the end of February. Stephen Coen or Mike Murray, the latter came off the bench against Down to make his championship debut, are now likely to be called up to the starting team for Armagh's visit.
Meanwhile, Nowlan Park has retained its crown as the best GAA inter-county pitch in the country following the announcement of the National Pitch Awards for 2019. The home of Kilkenny GAA received top marks in the National Pitch Awards, having also scooped the top award 12 months ago, with Semple Stadium in Thurles being awarded the inaugural prize in 2017.
Páirc Tailteann in Meath was the runner up venue with Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon, McGovern Park in Ruislip, O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny and Pearse Stadium in Galway also receiving a highly commended status. The adjudication was carried out by Dr Stephen Barker of the Sports Research Institute, Stuart Wilson, Pitch Manager at Croke Park, and the NGDC in Abbotstown.
The process involved scoring and feedback from referees during the Allianz Leagues in spring and took into consideration a Pitch Quality Assessment based on performance standards, construction, management program, environmental conditions and usage levels. There then followed a site visit where tests were conducted including general quality/presentation, ground cover, annual meadow-grass.