Gavin Duffy misses out Mayo place for Roscommon game
James Horan gives championship debut to Conor O’Shea at centre forward
Aidan O’Shea: starts at midfield with his brother Séamus for Mayo against Roscommon. Photograph: Inpho
Gavin Duffy has not been named in the Mayo football panel by manager James Horan for Sunday’s Connacht football semi-final against Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park.
The former Ireland international returned to Gaelic football following a 15 year absence, after being released by Connacht rugby, but hasn’t readjusted quickly enough to be considered for Sunday’s provincial semi-final against Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park.
“I’ve said it before that if there is anyone who can add anything to the panel or improve what we do or how we play, I’ll certainly have a look at him,” said Horan recently. “Gavin Duffy fitted a huge amount of those categories. It was a very low-risk move on our part and there was only benefit in it.”
However, after playing the 32 year old at wing back, midfield and half forward in training, a place in the 26 cannot be found for him.
Horan has made three changes to the side that beat New York with Ger Cafferkey returning at fullback instead of Kevin Keane, Andy Moran makes way for Alan Freeman and Conor O’Shea makes his championship debut at centre forward.
The youngest of the three O’Shea brothers in Horan’s line-up, he replaces Jason Gibbons, who is struggling with ankle ligament damage, sustained playing for Ballintubber. Keith Higgins remains at corner back as the experiment which saw the accomplished defender utilised further up the field last year has been shelved, for now at least.
Two time All Star Alan Dillon has not reached the conditioning to start on the weekend.
Considering Mayo remain on course for a 10th successive victory in the provincial championship, dating back to 2010, Roscommon manager John Evans has sought to play down any chance of an upset at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday.
“Ah look, I think we’re losing the run of ourselves,” Evans told the Roscommon Herald. “Mayo are a different animal. They probably started their gallop a little too early last year. They’re coming into the championship with a lower profile this season but they’re still a dangerous animal to be dealing with.
“I expect them to come out all guns blazing. Anyone that has any doubts about them are going to be disappointed. They want to win the All-Ireland and prove everybody wrong. They are the second best team in the country and went very close to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final. They gave Roscommon a bit of a drubbing in Castlebar last year.”
That drubbing finished 0-21 to 0-9 and brought the win streak over their eastern neighbours to seven since the 2001 Connacht final.
The Kerry native has refused to make any room in his team for the under-21 players that reached April’s All-Ireland final. The only change from the side that beat Leitrim 1-18 to 0-13 last month sees Ian Kilbride replace the injured David Keenan.
Kildare are without Darroch Mulhall for Sunday’s curtain-raiser at Croke Park against Louth after being hospitalised with appendicitis.
Laois are in a healthier state ahead for their meeting with Dublin with Paul Begley set to remain at full back, in Mark Timmins’ enforced absence, as elder brother Colm should return to the half back line when Tomás Ó Flatharta releases the line-up tonight.
Ó Flatharta left the former Brisbane Lion professional out of his panel for the opening round victory over Wicklow after Begley’s conflict of interest with his Dublin club Parnells, who are also his employers.
Meanwhile, Waterford hurling manager Derek McGrath received a significant boost by the return of Shane O’Sullivan to midfield and Shane Fives at left half back ahead of Sunday’s Munster championship quarter-final replay against Cork.
Last, but by no means least considering it is Sky Sports’ maiden voyage into Gaelic games, Brian Whelahan must do without full back and former Offaly captain David Kenny come Saturday’s Leinster hurling quarter-final in Nowlan Park.
“David’s unlikely to play again this summer,” said Whelahan of the veteran’s knee surgery. “It’s just very unfortunate for him, and for us.”
Colin Egan (hamstring), Paul Cleary and Derek Molloy (knee) are also unavailable as is Seán Cleary due to a one game suspension.
At least Kilkenny, in eerily similar circumstances to this fixture last year, are without Michael Fennelly and Henry Shefflin. Michael Rice is the latest hurler to be ruled out for several months with a cruciate ligament tear and Kilkenny’s advantage is lessened further by Richie Power’s hamstring problem.
Both Whelahan and Brian Cody will announce their starters after training tonight. ROSCOMMON (SFC v Leitrim): D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty (capt), N Collins; I Kilbride, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; D O’Gara, D Shine, R Stack; S Kilbride, C Cregg, C Murtagh. WATERFORD (SHC v Cork): S O’Keeffe; T de Burca, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, S Fives; S O’Sullivan, K Moran; C Dunford, J Dillon, P Mahony; S Walsh, B O’Sullivan, A Gleeson. WATERFORD (SFC v Clare): S Enright, D Crowley, T O’Gorman, M O’Gorman, C Phelan, S Briggs, O Keevers, S Aherne, T Prendergast, M O’Gorman, L Ó Lonáin, T Ó hUallacháin, B Wall, P Whyte, JJ Hutchinson. MAYO (SFC v Roscommon): R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, D Vaughan; C O’Shea, A O’Shea; D O’Connor, S O’Shea, J Doherty; K McLoughlin, A Freeman, C O’Connor.