Table topping Dublin will be hoping to keep their unbeaten start to the league going when they welcome Mayo to Croke Park on Saturday evening. Wins over Kerry (in Killarney) and Cork has raised hopes for Jim Gavin’s young side and while the focus will be a double tilt at Leinster and All Ireland titles, a good league campaign will help build confidence ahead of the summer.
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A seven point win over an out of sorts Kerry in round 2 followed up a 1-18 to 2-09 win over Cork on the opening day. Those wins leave the Dubs with four points from four and a healthy 16 points goal/point difference.
Mayo meanwhile also made light work of Kerry winning 0-15 to 1-06 in Castlebar before going down by a solitary point to Tyrone last time out, a game in which the All Ireland runners up went 31 minutes without scoring.
Dublin have called up Darragh Nelson and Declan O’Mahony to the team with Rory O’Carroll and the suspended Michael Darragh Macauley making way.
Dublin (NFL V Mayo): Stephen Cluxton; Darren Daly, Kevin O’Brien, Johnny Cooper; Darragh Nelson, Ger Brennan, Jack McCaffrey; Declan O’Mahony, Cian O’Sullivan; Paul Flynn, Tomas Brady, Ciaran Reddin; Paddy Andrews, Diarmuid Connolly, Bernard Brogan.
Mayo boss James Horan meanwhile has made wholesales changes to the side which lost to Tyrone last time out with Kenneth O’Malley, Donal Vaughan, Jason Gibbons, Barry Moran and Enda Varley all coming in. David Clarke, Kevin Keane, Tom Cunniffe, Seamus O’Shea and Cathal Freeman are the men to make way.
Mayo XV- Kenneth O’Malley; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle; Jason Gibbons, Barry Moran; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Richie Feeney; Enda Varley, Jason Doherty, Michael Conroy.
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Despite the youthful appearance of the Dublin side this season it is the evergreen Bernard Brogan who has so far being the shining light. The forward has scored 13 points for the Blues so in his opening two games.
The 22 year old Breaffy club man will line out at Centre Forward and will be buoyed by his recent success with DIT who he helped win a first Sigerson Cup. O’Shea played the All Ireland final in centre midfield but his 6ft 4” frame should beef up the Mayo forward line and make life difficult for the Dublin backline.
Scored six points in the narrow defeat to Tyrone that doubled his tally for the season following his 6 point haul, 5 free’s in the win over Kerry and despite being moved from the forwards to midfield will still be a threat in front of the posts for Mayo.
Despite being named on the bench Kilkenny could have a big impact on the game. The former dual star has become something of a household name in the Irish GAA scene following his decision to turn his back on an AFL career. The former Hurling star scored 2-10 on his return to action for the U21 side in a recent thrashing of Carlow and he will be eager to make his mark with the senior side if called upon on Saturday.
With Colm Boyle and Donal Vaughan both included despite nursing hamstring injuries the focus will be on Keegan to lead from the back. The 2012 All Star scored a point in the loss to Tyrone and will be hoping that he can provide a threat at both ends of the field in Croke Park.
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