All-Ireland SFC semi-final
Mayo v Tyrone
Croke Park, Dublin
Ref: Maurice Deegan (Laois)
Latest from the medics and management…
Same again for Mayo boss James Horan as he has named an unchanged side. That’s easy to understand when you consider they’re coming off the back of a 16-point thrashing of defending champions Donegal.
Rob Hennelly remains in goal although Kenneth O’Malley has recovered from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the last two games and is fit to take his place on the bench.
Tyrone have made two changes from the side that beat Monaghan earlier this month. With Martin Penrose suspended, Harte has given his place in the full forward line to Conor McAliskey.
The only other change sees the experienced Dermot Carlin replaced by Ryan McKenna at corner-back.
Mayo: Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Chris Barrett (Belmullet); Lee Keegan (Westport), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe), Colm Boyle (Davitts); Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber); Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen).
Tyrone: Pascal McConnell (Newtownstewart); Ryan McKenna (Eglish), Conor Clarke (Omagh), Cathal McCarron (Dromore); Ciaran McGinley (Errigal Ciarán), Peter Harte (Errigal Ciarán), Conor Gormley (Carrickmore); Colm Cavanagh (Moy), Sean Cavanagh (Moy); Mattie Donnelly (Trillick), Mark Donnelly (Carrickmore), Joe McMahon (Omagh); Darren McCurry (Edendork), Stephen O’Neill (Clann na nGael), Conor McAliskey (Clonoe).
Checking the odds…
The bookmakers have clearly decided that this game will be wrapped up by Mayo. They’re overwhelming favourites at 2/7 with Tyrone available at 7/2. Then you can get the draw at 10/1.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte
Pic: INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton
Clues from the form guide…
There is an element of intrigue by the marked contrast in the two sides routes to this stage. On the one hand you have a Mayo team who have destroyed everyone they have met this summer and on the other hand is a Tyrone team who have developed the art of chiselling out a narrow win.
Mayo’s average winning margin from their four championship games to date has been just over 15 points and they crushed Donegal, who looked admittedly devoid of energy, to underline the superiority they have been exerting.
Since that Ulster slip up against Donegal and their thrashing of Offaly early in the qualifiers, there has been a clear pattern to Tyrone’s victories. Roscommon, Kildare, Meath and Monaghan have all been despatched by a margin of two points on each occasion.
The goalscoring trends of both teams is also interesting. Tyrone have only hit the net twice in their six games whereas Mayo have struck 13 goals in the four matches they have played.
Defender Donal Vaughan has matched Tyrone’s goalscoring record while attacker Cillian O’Connor has struck three times as many as the Red Hands.
The game breakers are…
The midfield battle holds a clear fascination. Sean Cavanagh’s form has been magnificent in steering Tyrone through the backdoor, particularly with the inspirational points he has landed at vital times in games.
While not even a late red card could overshadow the quality of Aidan O’Shea’s performance for Mayo against Donegal. Both players may not be in direct opposition but quelling their influences is key for their opponents.
Using dynamic figures like Keith Higgins, Donal Vaughan and Colm Boyle to track Cavanagh’s marauding runs will be key for Mayo. Tyrone must try to deprive O’Shea of primary possession from kickouts.
For Tyrone getting more out of Stephen O’Neill seems imperative in attack but Mattie Donnelly’s form has been impressive.
The variety of attacking options that Mayo possess is clear and it is an area where they have enhanced their challenge this year. Cillian O’Connor is in electric form, Kevin McLoughlin is still as prominent as 2012 while Alan Dillon and Andy Moran are flourishing without the pressures of being the main men up front.
Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor celebrates scoring his second goal against Donegal
Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Gazing into the crystal ball…
For a team who suffered the crushing disappointment of losing another All-Ireland final last September, Mayo deserve immense credit for hauling themselves back into contention again.
They have done so in a style that suggests they are in a strong position with the addition of coach Donie Buckley to their setup improving a powerful and physical team.
Mickey Harte has done a fine job in steering Tyrone back to the last four considering they bowed out early in Ulster and they are a battle-hardened force.
But they look to be meeting a team of greater strength that can get back to the September stage.