Super 8s (Group 1)
Kerry v Mayo
Sunday at 4pm
Peter Keane has named his team for Kerry’s Super 8s opener against Mayo but it appears as though supporters will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to find out who will be providing the back-up.
In an unusual move, Kerry have refrained from naming their 11 substitutes, instead releasing only the starting 15 ahead of the crucial fixture which will take place at the Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney.
Keane has made one change from the team that lined out in the Munster final against Cork as Dr Crokes half forward Micheál Burns comes in for midfielder Jack Barry.
Barry’s Na Gaeil clubmate Diarmuid O’Connor will move to the middle of the park in his place.
Mayo, meanwhile, were dealt a blow earlier in the week when it was confirmed that influential defender Paddy Durcan will miss out due to injury.
The irony of this fixture is that even though it’s technically the start of a round robin series that will see each side take to the field three times over a four-week period, in reality it could well signal the end of one team’s season.
Ulster champions Donegal are arguably the form team in the country and they’ll be strong favourites to top Group 1 and advance to the semi-final. That leaves just one semi-final spot up for grabs and two into one does not go.
Well, it does, but you would need to half Mayo and Kerry and if there’s any county getting divided in two, it’s not us.
Of course, we’re being a touch disrespectful to Meath by suggesting that it’s simply a three-horse race. The Division 2 champions are in the last eight on merit on the back of their run to the Leinster final and they had some good moments in last weekend’s victory over Clare in Round 4 of the Qualifiers.
But The Royal County are rank outsiders and you would expect them to have nothing to play for by the time they face Kerry in the last game of the Super 8s.
Peter Keane, meanwhile, will naturally be hoping that Kerry still have it all to play for when they head up to Páirc Tailteann on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
For now, his focus will be entirely on the Mayo conundrum.
And what a conundrum it is. James Horan’s side are unquestionably the game’s great entertainers, which is a roundabout way of saying that they’re very good while also being wildly unpredictable.
Unpredictability doesn’t usually lend itself to success but after years of coming up short, Mayo slung that particularly irritating monkey from their back by winning the National League final in Croke Park in March.
They were dumped out of Connacht by Roscommon in May and plenty of observers have written them off in the days and weeks since, but here they are, back from the dead, descending upon Killarney like a horde of hungry zombies. Actually, that’s not a fair comparison. Zombies are much slower. And far less cynical.
You would have to be impressed with how Mayo acquitted themselves in the Qualifiers. They got the better of Armagh despite being down a number of bodies and as for last Saturday, don’t let the scoreline fool you. They hammered Galway. Cian O’Connor was back to his infuriatingly efficient best, Darren Coen was a constant threat and James Carr’s wondergoal will go down as one of the moments of the championship.
They are still without Matthew Ruane and Diarmuid O’Connor, and Durcan will be a big loss, but the unexpectedly quick return of Lee Keegan is a major boost. You can expect him to be pestering some poor Kerry player to within an inch of his life on Sunday.
Kerry are 8/15 favourites for this game. The bookies don’t often get things wrong but Mayo have beaten Kerry twice already this year and they have momentum coming through the back door, so it’s hard to get your head around that one.
The Kingdom, meanwhile, laboured at times against Clare and Cork and while there’s no denying that the future is looking bright, this Kerry team is not the finished article.
Playing in Killarney should be a boost, although you’re likely to see as much green and red as green and gold in the Park on Sunday.
It appears as though the odds should be slightly in Mayo’s favour but whatever happens, it should be a cracking game at the home of football.
- Shane Ryan (Rathmore)
- Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)
- Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
- Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)
- Paul Murphy (Rathmore)
- Jack Sherwood (Firies)
- Gavin White (Dr Crokes)
- David Moran (Kerins O’Rahilly’s)
- Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil)
- Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes)
- Seán O’Shea (Kenmare)
- Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare)
- David Clifford (Fossa)
- Paul Geaney (Dingle)
- Dara Moynihan (Spa)
- David Clarke
- Chris Barrett
- Brendan Harrison
- Keith Higgins
- Lee Keegan
- Colm Boyle
- Stephen Coen
- Aidan O’Shea
- Donal Vaughan
- Fionn McDonagh
- Kevin McLoughlin
- Jason Doherty
- Cillian O’Connor
- Darren Coen
- James Carr