Mayo cling to hope Lee Keegan will be cleared for replay

Hearing into red card against Kerry will be held tonight


are still clinging to the slim hope that

Lee Keegan

will be cleared to play in Saturday’s


All-Ireland football semi-final replay

. Keegan, red-carded shortly before half-time in last Sunday’s draw against


, will have his appeal heard tonight, although with little expectation of him being cleared for the replay at the Gaelic Grounds.

Manager James Horan immediately declared his intention to appeal the decision in the aftermath of Sunday's draw, even having reviewed footage of the moment where Keegan attempted to kick Kerry's Johnny Buckley. Under rule, referee David Coldrick from Meath was perfectly entitled to send Keegan off for an attempted strike, despite its apparently harmless nature.


It is also believed that – whatever about the nature of Keegan’s offence – the fact he would be still eligible for the All-Ireland final should Mayo progress will further reduce the chances of his red card being struck out.

In the meantime Horan has held off on naming his Mayo team for the replay until tomorrow morning. Wing-forward Kevin McLoughlin moved into Keegan’s wing-back position to good effect in the second half, and may well continue in that role.

McLoughlin started out as a wing-back, and Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice acknowledged that he was "a big factor in Mayo driving on" during the second half of last Sunday's draw. There is also the possibility that Chris Barrett will get a starting position in the defence, after being replaced before the start last Sunday by Jason Gibbons.

If McLoughlin is kept in the defence that might mean a starting place for Andy Moran in the attack, who was also withdrawn before the start last Sunday and replaced by Alan Freeman.

“We knew we had to change something,” said McLoughlin, who was Mayo’s second highest scorer this summer going into Sunday’s game. “The main thing is that I went to wing-back, and we just sorted ourselves out. We had to play with 14 men, so we just had to manage it as best we could, up in the forwards. I have played wing-back before, which helped a lot. I just had to do a job, and just had to work away. When you are given a job you just have to do it.”

Kerry will name their starting team this evening, and despite much speculation on whether or not Kieran Donaghy may be given a starting place, it's more likely he will be kept in reserve.

Fully fit

Stephen O’Brien and Michael Geaney are also fully fit and available for selection despite being replaced relatively early the last day and Darran O’Sullivan will also be pressing harder for a starting place having gone into Sunday’s game still nursing the minor after-effects of a hamstring injury.

The Kerry county board have also acknowledged the “unbelievable” demand by clubs for tickets for the replay, and envisage the game being a complete 42,000 sell-out, with only a limited number of terrace tickets going on public sale at the Austin Stack Park.

Mayo are looking for their first championship win over Kerry since 1996.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics