Liam McHale thinks Ger Brennan starting can help Mayo

Former midfield star is hopeful Cillian O’Connor wil be fit

The fitness of  Cillian O’Connor remains problematic for Mayo. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The fitness of Cillian O’Connor remains problematic for Mayo. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 01:01


The presumption this week is that Ger Brennan and Cillian O’Connor are holed up somewhere watching Walter White’s Kafkaesque story unfurl on Netflix.

Because the incessant chatter is mostly about their chances of selection for Sunday’s All-Ireland football final. Andy Moran isn’t spared. Nor is Denis Bastick.The problem, as former Mayo midfielder and selector Liam McHale noted at a Vodafone gig yesterday in Paddy Cullen’s pub, is form.

Brennan has been lugging water all summer as Dublin wing backs, James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey, while Cian O’Sullivan was anointed saviour against Kerry after moving onto Colm Cooper.

“No disrespect to Ger Brennan but in Mayo we’d prefer if he started centre back because we can match him up with Alan Dillon, ” said McHale. “If Cian O’Sullivan goes centre back and Bastick goes into midfield, in my opinion, we have to put Dillon into the full forward line because [Dublin’s half back line] will kill him athletically. And we don’t want our best ball player running around chasing fellas.”

The fitness of O’Connor (shoulder) and Moran (knee) remains problematic. The former postponed an operation while the latter is striving to regain full throttle having gone under the knife.

“You can’t carry (O’Connor), for sure. You’re as well to start him . . . And also Andy Moran struggling to get back fit after the knee operation is a big concern. Andy is way off what he was last year and the year before. They’re our two top forwards so if they’re below par, it’s going to make it that bit more difficult for us.

“Andy is probably flying in training, nobody trains harder than him, but I hope he hasn’t done too much now and hasn’t over-cooked himself.”

McHale, who played in the 1989, 1996 and 1997 finals believes Mayo must go man on man.

“We just can’t play a sweeper role with that kind of high line we’ve been using all season. That can’t happen, the numbers don’t add up. I doubt (James Horan’s) going to change the whole system to play a sweeper in order to be defensive in the first-half.