Mayo v Donegal : Preview, Team News & Live Score Commentary Updates
In my opinion this definitely is the clash of the round. We see a replay of last season’s All-Ireland final with two teams determined to get their hands on Sam Maguire. There are a lot of questions surrounding both sides and it’s another game that is hard to predict. Jim McGuinnes started mind-games last weekend with suggestions of fears for his players due to cynical play and I am not surprised that James Horan has stayed quiet in the build-up to the game.
Mayo have blown away each of their opponents this season. The opposition has been poor so it’s hard to know where they are at on that basis. Ciarán Whelan and Joe Brolly debated the issue on last weekend’s edition of The Sunday Game, with Brolly saying that he felt Mayo were in a great position and Whelan arguing that his experience with Dublin would suggest that big wins against poor opposition was far from ideal preparation. Until Sunday I don’t think that can question can really be answered.
I don’t think Mayo got the credit they deserved in last year’s All-Ireland final. Fair enough, they conceded early goals and left themselves with an up-hill task but they stayed in the game right until the end. They finally created a goal chance, when Seamus O’Shea slipped when through on goal, if that had been converted than the outcome could have been very different. They have looked like a better team this season but again, there have to be question marks about their opposition so far.
Donegal have not become a bad team overnight. The only thing that concerns me with Donegal is the fact that the strength and depth of the squad is being tested to the limit. Their squad is small. When depth was needed in the league, they fell short and found themselves relegated. Injuries to Karl Lacey, Neil Gallagher and Mark McHugh have proven to be very costly. They haven’t been able to replace them adequately. Up front outside of Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden and Paddy McBrearty there doesn’t appear to be a scoring threat. There are no replacements to challenge them and if they don’t perform there doesn’t seem to be a ‘plan b’.
There obviously still a very good team but I think this season has just shown that they appear to be a bit one dimensional. I expected a real statement of intent against Laois last weekend but they stumbled over the finishing line. They will need to get things right against Mayo or they could have to hand Sam Maguire back. They obviously still have a good chance to retain their title but other than Dublin I think this is the team who really can beat Donegal. I’m going to go for Mayo to win here. I think there time has come. They have Andy Moran back from last year’s All-Ireland final and I think he could be the difference.
Mayo : Robert Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Richie Feeney, Alan Dillon; Cillian O’Connor, Alan Freeman, Andy Moran
Donegal : Paul Durcan, Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamonn McGee, Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey, Anthony Thompson, Neil Gallagher, Rory Kavanagh, Ryan Bradley, Ryan McHugh, David Walsh, Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden.
Players to Watch
Cillian O’Connor – Mayo
He looks like a much better playing this year he is maturing more and more with every game. The opposition in front of him can be questioned but I must say I think he has offered a lot more as an all-round player and not just a free taker. If he can give Mayo that extra bit on last year, he could make a difference.
Andy Moran – Mayo
The Mayo captain and leader missed last season’s All-Ireland final through injury but he has made a comeback this season and lesser opposition has been a great way for him to find his fitness. He now goes into the quarter-final with a chip on his shoulder trying to prove that Mayo may have won last year had he been available. If he can lead the attack along with O’Connor, Mayo are a much greater threat up front.
Michael Murphy – Donegal
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but Murphy is in such a similar situation this year as he was last year prior to their meeting with Mayo. He had struggled for form and all of the talk was directed at Colm McFadden but Murphy produced a performance worthy of winning any All-Ireland final. He played a captains role and scored 1-4. It was fitting that he was the man to raise Sam Maguire and sing ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches’. He didn’t score against Monaghan and wasn’t spectacular against Laois. His early season form was incredible, he has had a dip and Donegal need him to produce against Mayo. They need to get a kick from somewhere. Murphy provided it in last year’s final and they will hope he can do it again.
I think Mayo may finally be in a position to win Sam Maguire but looking at betting odds makes this one very hard to advise. Mayo are a low price at 8/13 while Donegal are priced at 7/4 with Boylesports.com . The price on Donegal is very generous. It is still highly possible that they can recreate their best form and beat Mayo. They also have a psychological advantage in terms of last year’s win. The handicap prices on Donegal are definitely worth a look at for punters this weekend.