MAYO are chasing a hat-trick of titles when they play Galway in the Connacht minor football championship final in Castlebar tomorrow.
They can start five of last year’s winning team – Darren Coen, Cillian O’Connor, Castlebar Mitchels duo Danny Kirby and Fergal Durkan and Conor Walsh. The defending champions defeated Roscommon in round one and Leitrim in the semi-final but were not convincing in either game, something that is of concern to team coach Tony Duffy.
“It’s difficult to keep on winning,” said Duffy, “but the incentive is there for the lads to make it three wins in a row, and particularly for the five lads who played last year.
“Players don’t get the opportunity too often to win back-to-back minor championship medals and I’m hoping they can rise to the challenge Galway will undoubtedly put up.
“Games between Mayo and Galway tend to take on a life of their own. Players on both sides are very familiar with each other from colleges games with St Jarlath’s and St Gerard’s and there is rarely very much between us.”
The Mayo selectors have given a vote of confidence to the team which defeated Leitrim 2-12 to 1-7 in the semi-final, but are sweating on the fitness of team captain Cillian O’Connor, who is named at corner-forward.
The Ballintubber man was injured playing with his club in an U21 game last week and the selectors will give him every chance to prove his fitness.
“There has never much between the counties at this level and I don’t expect that to change tomorrow. Galway will be all out to stop us winning three titles in a row. We know what we are up against and will have to improve considerably on our earlier form if we are to retain our crown“, said Duffy.
This will be Galway’s first appearance in the final in three years, a lifetime by their standards, and they will be very determined to put an end to a bad run of defeats. They will look to inspirational corner-forward Shane Maughan for scores.
He contributed seven points in the semi-final win over Sligo and could be a match winner on this occasion.
Mayo will find scores hard to come by against a very strong Galway full back line that includes Philip Ezergalis and James Shaughnessy. But home advantage, coupled with their desire to complete a hat-trick of wins, should swing it for Mayo.
MAYO (MFC v Galway): P Mannion; B Harrison, N Freeman, C Twomey; R Quirke, C Walsh, C Horan; D Kirby, S McGarry; F Durkan, M Forde, S Kelly; C Costello, D Coen, C O’Connor.
GALWAY (MFC v Mayo): J Keane; P Ezergalas, J Shaughnessy, T Curran; M Loughnane, M Kelly, P Varley; E Commins, M O’Donnell; N Quinn, F O Currain, C Rabbitte; C O’Neill, N Breathnach, S Maughan.
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