Same again for Mayo as they bid to stop Dubs’ drive for three-in-a-row

Irish Independent - - SPORT - Martin Bre­heny

MAYO will start to­mor­row’s All-Ire­land fi­nal with 13 of the team that lost last year’s re­play to Dublin.

Man­ager Stephen Rochford has re­mained loyal to the 15 who started the semi-fi­nal re­play against Kerry. Spec­u­la­tion that he might start Paddy Dur­can, who re­placed Donal Vaughan in that game, has proven to be un­founded.

Chris Bar­rett for Dur­can and David Clarke for Hen­nelly are the only two per­son­nel changes from the team which started last year’s re­play against Dublin which they lost by a point.

Ir­re­spec­tive of who wins to­mor­row, it will go down as one of most his­toric suc­cesses in Dublin or Mayo his­tory.

A vic­tory for Dublin would se­cure their first three-in-a-row for 94 years while a Mayo suc­cess would end their 66-year wait for a re­turn visit from Sam Maguire.

They have been in 10 fi­nals since then, los­ing eight and draw­ing two, with their most re­cent dis­ap­point­ment com­ing last year when they were edged out by Dublin in a re­play.

Andy Mo­ran (34), who made his cham­pi­onship de­but in 2004, is en­joy­ing pos­si­bly his best ever sea­son, scor­ing 3-21 from open play in the cham­pi­onship, with 3-9 com­ing in Mayo’s last four out­ings against Kerry (twice) and Roscom­mon (twice).

“You can see how his game has evolved over the last num­ber of games. He’s very, very im­pres­sive,” said Dublin man­ager Jim Gavin.

Mo­ran was es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive in both semi-fi­nals against Kerry, scor­ing 1-5 and 1-1 re­spec­tively.

Gavin is likely to del­e­gate Jonny Cooper, a noted man-marker, to track Mo­ran, who is Mayo’s top scorer from open play in this cham­pi­onship.

Mayo have im­proved sub­stan­tially over the course of seven games since los­ing to Gal­way in the Con­nacht semi-fi­nal, with the big­gest step-up com­ing af­ter the draw with Roscom­mon in the All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal.

Dublin have been even more im­pres­sive, hav­ing won all five cham­pi­onship games eas­ily. How­ever, it leaves them with­out a se­ri­ous test since los­ing the league fi­nal to Kerry in April.

They were par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive in the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal, beat­ing Ul­ster cham­pi­ons, Ty­rone by 12 points.

De­spite that, Gavin be­lieves they need fur­ther im­prove­ment.

“We’ve iden­ti­fied things we have to work on and we’re go­ing to have to get them right against Mayo,” he said.

The se­nior fi­nal (3.30) will be pre­ceded by the mi­nor de­cider (1.15), with Derry tak­ing on Kerry.

It will be the last U-18 fi­nal, as the mi­nor age limit will be re­duced to 17 next year with Kerry bid­ding to win the ti­tle for the fourth suc­ces­sive year and for the 15th time over­all while Derry, who are seek­ing their fifth ti­tle, were last suc­cess­ful in 2002.

Part of to­mor­row’s fringe events in will fea­ture the Air Corps con­duct­ing a fly-past over Croke Park to­wards the end of the Na­tional An­them.

It has also been an­nounced that the All Stars scheme will have a new spon­sor from this year, with PwC tak­ing over from Opel. The All Star nom­i­na­tions will be an­nounced next week.

MAYO (SF v Dublin): D Clarke; B Har­ri­son, D Vaughan, K Hig­gins;LKee­gan,CBar­rett,CBoyle;SO’Shea,TPar­sons; KMcLough­lin,AO’Shea,DO’Con­nor;JDo­herty,CO’Con­nor (capt), A Mo­ran.

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