Donegal vs Mayo: The statistics
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Donegal v Mayo (Tonight, Croke Park, 6pm)
Man of the moment…
Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)
THE Breaffy clubman’s deployment to full-forward is the single biggest reason why Mayo look a more balanced unit than in previous seasons. Given O’Shea’s incredible ability to beat men with both skill and power, it makes perfect sense to position him where he can cause most damage to the opposition.
For such a big man he is unbelievably nimble and has two good feet, and a solid temperament to match.
O’Shea won man-of-the-match awards in Mayo’s Connacht wins over Galway and Sligo and bagged 3-4 against the Yeats County in the decider.
Neil McGee (Donegal) v Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)
NEIL McGee is almost certain to get the Aidan O’Shea portfolio – and it could be as tough as trying to contain Monaghan’s Conor McManus. To compound McGee’s worries Donegal’s defensive screen hasn’t been as well manned this season. Like McManus, O’Shea will occasionally drift out the field to get involved. McGee is likely to follow him everywhere. The man who wins this duel will have given his team a platform for victory.
How they line out…
Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Eamon McGee; Ryan McHugh, Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn; Neil Gallagher, Martin McElhinney; Martin O’Reilly, Odhran MacNiallais, Mark McHugh; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden
How they line out…
David Clarke; Ger Cafferkey, Donal Vaughan, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Tom Cunniffe, Colm Boyle; Séamus O'Shea, Tom Parsons; Diarmuid O'Connor, Aidan O'Shea, Kevin McLoughlin; Andy Moran, Cillian O'Connor, Jason Doherty
REGARDLESS of what team was emailed for the match programme earlier in the week, there are likely to be changes. Eamonn McGee and Karl Lacey are both carrying knocks, although Anthony Thompson’s strong second half performance might offset Lacey or McGee’s potential absence.
Martin McElhinney returns to midfield where his running power and ability to break defensive lines has been impressive this season.
NOEL Connelly and Pat Holmes have stuck with the same starting line-up that dismissed Sligo in the Connacht decider by 26 points last month. Donal Vaughan is named again at full-back – a problem position for the county in recent years – while Tom Parsons’ return to form this season has shored up midfield and allowed Aidan O’Shea to push into attack. Alan Dillon, Mark Ronaldson and Alan Freeman are good bench men.
DEFENSIVELY, Donegal could learn from the way in which Joe McMahon and Colm Cavanagh disengage from the play to station themselves in front of the Tyrone full-back line when the opposition attacks.
Neil Gallagher and Mark McHugh will need to kill the space in front of Aidan O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor when Mayo attack.
It would be a mistake for Rory Gallagher to change anything about his attack because it worked so well in the second half against Galway last weekend.
Mayo will expect Michael Murphy on the edge of the square – so Gallagher shouldn’t disappoint them.
Colm McFadden played ever so well in a deeper role but can expect more attention from the Mayo defence. Donegal were at their best when they went direct against Galway. Mayo’s weakness is their full-back line. Expect an aerial onslaught similar to the one that saw Donegal win the 2012 All-Ireland final.
MAYO have one massive defensive conundrum: How do they contain Michael Murphy? Well, they will need at least two men at all times to stop the Glenswilly man ruining their All-Ireland aspirations. Between them Ger Cafferkey and Donal Vaughan will try and protect Mayo’s brittle full-back line from an early air assault from the Ulstermen.
Colm Boyle is a sticky man-marker and might be given the job of marking Colm McFadden who was brilliant along the ‘40’ in Donegal’s win over Galway.
From an attacking perspective, Mayo must be more direct particularly now they have a target man in Aidan O’Shea. He was supplied with four balls in the first half against Galway and won four frees that were converted. When you have a bear on the edge of the square, he needs feeding.
Who’s the ref?
David Gough (Meath)
ARMAGH fans will remember the Meath official for not awarding their team a second-half penalty in their All-Ireland Qualifier defeat to Galway. He also took charge of Longford-Carlow, Roscommon-Cavan and Tyrone-Tipperary in the Qualifiers. He’s issued three black cards in four Championship games. This will be Gough’s toughest assignment.
THERE could be a few spots of rain by the time of throw-in and it is expected to be a muggy evening in the capital.
Last Championship meeting…
2013 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final: Mayo 4-17 Donegal 1-10
THIS was the day Donegal's world fell apart. Mayo avenged their All-Ireland defeat to Donegal 11 months earlier in emphatic style. All was not well in the lead-up to this quarter-final and it was clear there was no love lost on the sidelines. After losing to Monaghan in the Ulster final, Donegal stumbled into the quarter-finals via a bruising affair with Laois in Carrick-on-Shannon eight days earlier.
Cillian O'Connor grabbed three goals, his first coming in the sixth minute. And once Donal Vaughan broke through to hit Mayo's second goal soon afterwards, Donegal were mentally and physically beaten.
Eamonn McGee was red-carded for an uncharacteristic stamp in the second half, while Colm McFadden grabbed a consolation goal.
It was the last time Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher shared the Donegal sidelines together.
Mayo -1 11/10
Donegal +1 10/11
Draw (-1) 8/1