Cillian O’Connor starts for Mayo as tensions rise ahead of clash against Donegal

Monaghan name unchanged side while Tyrone make one alteration to their team

Cillian O’Connor celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against London in the Connacht final at McHale Park, Castlebar. O’Connor starts against Donegal in  Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final. Photograph: Inpho

Cillian O’Connor celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against London in the Connacht final at McHale Park, Castlebar. O’Connor starts against Donegal in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final. Photograph: Inpho


Much change in Mayo, not from the Connacht final against London mind, but since last September’s defeat to Donegal.

Cillian O’Connor’s recovery from a dislocated shoulder was completed when he registered 3-3 after arriving off the bench in last month’s provincial decider so he starts in place of Darren Coen for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final.

The other important fitness boost for Mayo is Donal Vaughan, who is named at centre back, not just because he is the preferred number six for James Horan but it allows Keith Higgins slip into a man-marking corner-back position, where he is so valuable. Chris Barrett loses out in the shuffle.

They are the two changes from their last outing but only the half-back line is unaltered from last year’s 2-11 to 0-13 defeat to Donegal in Croke Park.

It’s unclear who will be picking up Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden this time around but Tom Cunniffe has replaced Kevin Keane at corner back. Keane gave away several inches and kilos to Murphy last year and Mayo immediately paid for the miss-match as the Donegal captain scored a marvellous early goal.

A goalkeeping crisis also sees Robert Hennelly come in from the cold while Barry Moran has not done enough to remove Séamus O’Shea from midfield, where he partners little, albeit significantly bigger, brother Aidan. Moran remains a viable option off the bench.

Richie Feeney only saw action for the last 10 minutes of last season’s final but he starts at centre forward, flanked by Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Dillon.

Perhaps the most important addition is that of veteran All Star corner forward Andy Moran who missed the 2012 run-in due to cruciate ligament damage. That all means Horan holds plenty in reserve, like Keane, Moran and Enda Varley.

Donegal named two days ago with the most significant change from last year being Ryan McHugh in for his injured brother Mark.

The rivalry between the counties has been ratcheted up when Donegal selector Rory Gallagher accused Mayo of colluding with Monaghan ahead of the Ulster final.

“Maybe we suspect there was a bit of collusion between Monaghan and Mayo,” Gallagher was quoted in the Irish News. “Bear in mind Lee Keegan’s tackle on Mark McHugh at the start of last year’s All-Ireland final. When Lee Keegan got booked, he came out and winked at a team-mate as if to say ‘job done’.

“I don’t believe for one minute that (Stephen) Gollogly went out to do the harm he did. He went out to hit him hard, but our player came out of it badly. I know Gollogly hurt himself as well.”

Gollogly was also forced off, after his eye welded shut following the collision with McHugh, but he has been passed fit to start at centre forward tomorrow against Tyrone.

“I don’t believe Malachy O’Rourke sent any player out to ‘do’ anyone,” Gallagher added. “That is not in his nature. But ask some of the top referees to view the incident. Was it a dangerous tackle? It was reckless and dangerous. At the end of the day, that deserves a red card.”

Gollogly’s recovery means the Ulster champions Monaghan can name the same team that captured a provincial crown for the first time in 25 years.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has made just one change from the side that beat Meath with Dermot Carlin at corner back instead of the presumably injured Ryan McKenna. Neither McKenna nor Justin McMahon have been named among the replacements.
MAYO (SFC v Donegal): R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, R Feeney, A Dillon; C O’Connor, A Freeman, A Moran.
MONAGHAN (SFC v Tyrone): R Beggan; K Duffy, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, D Mone; O Lennon, D Hughes; P Finlay, S Gollogly, D Malone; P Donaghy, K Hughes, C McManus.
TYRONE (SFC v Monaghan): P McConnell; D Carlin, C Clarke, C McCarron; C McGinley, P Harte, C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, Joe McMahon; D McCurry, S O’Neill, M Penrose.