GAA Football

All-Ireland SFC semi-final - Kerry v Mayo: All the analysis ahead of tomorrow's last four clash

Kieran Donaghy bags a goal against Mayo in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final replay in Limerick. 'Star' had a huge influence that night, and Stephen Rochford must come up with a plan to limit his threat at Croke Park tomorrow. Picture by Sportsfile
Neil Loughran

MAN OF THE MOMENT

LEE KEEGAN (MAYO)

A FOOT injury ruled the reigning player of the year out of the All-Ireland quarter-final replay against Roscommon, and he wasn’t missed as Mayo romped home. However, the Westport man is almost certain to come straight back in tomorrow – either at midfield or his more familiar half-back role. Sensational in the early stages of the drawn game with the Rossies, he will be key to Mayo’s hopes of reaching a second All-Ireland final in-a-row.

TEAM TALK

KERRY

B Kelly; S Enright, M Griffin, K Young; P Crowley, T Morley, P Murphy; D Moran, A Maher; M Geaney, J Buckley, S O’Brien; P Geaney, K Donaghy, J O’Donoghue

EAMONN Fitzmaurice has made three changes to the side that defeated Galway although one of those was not by choice. The in-form Donnchadh Walsh is forced out by injury and he is replaced by Stephen O’Brien. Elsewhere, Fionn Fitzgerald is replaced by Killian Young in the full-back line while young Jack Barry can consider himself unfortunate to be forced out by Anthony Maher in midfield.

MAYO

D Clarke; B Harrison, D Vaughan, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Barrett, C Boyle; S O’Shea, T Parsons; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; J Doherty, C O’Connor, A Moran

STEPHEN Rochford has made one change from the side that destroyed Roscommon last time out but it was an inevitable one as Lee Keegan has returned to the starting team with Paddy Durcan dropping out. Keegan has been named in the half-back line although there are suggestions he could yet move to midfield. Donal Vaughan, meanwhile, is set to make his 100th competitive appearance in a Mayo jersey 51 of those coming in the League while Sunday’s game will be his 49th Championship appearance.

KEY BATTLE

Kieran Donaghy (Kerry) v Donal Vaughan (Mayo)

DONAGHY has caused Mayo untold misery through the years, from the 2006 All-Ireland final to the 2014 semi-final replay in Limerick. Hugely influential in the last eight win over Galway, how he is handled today could have a huge bearing on the final outcome.

Mayo are not blessed with great height in the full-back line, and former midfielder David Brady even suggested during the week that stationing Aidan O’Shea on Donaghy could be the answer to curbing the Tralee man’s influence.

It is more likely that Vaughan, five inches shorter than Donaghy, could be handed the task, albeit with Keith Higgins sweeping in front.

KERRY TACTICAL TAKE

KERRY’S ace card is undoubtedly their full-forward line of Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy and James O’Donoghue but, in order to get those three on the ball in the areas where they can do maximum damage, Eamonn Fitzmaurice must first nullify Mayo’s main strength – runners from deep.

The half-forward line of Michael Geaney, Johnny Buckley and Donnchadh Walsh will filter back to try and slow Mayo up. Geaney was withdrawn early against Galway and it would be no surprise if Kevin McCarthy or even Stephen O’Brien were drafted in.

If Lee Keegan starts at midfield, young Jack Barry has the mobility to go toe-to-toe in what could be an intriguing battle. Donaghy has proved too hot to handle for Mayo on many occasions, and he will be key in bringing Paul Geaney and O’Donoghue into play.

MAYO TACTICAL TAKE

GIVEN the strength of the Kerry inside line, Stephen Rochford is unlikely to play as open a system as we have seen at times this year. Keith Higgins was deployed as a sweeper in the Roscommon replay and had a stormer.

Higgins has picked up James O’Donoghue to good effect in the past but that job could fall to Chris Barrett, with the sticky Brendan Harrison expected to match up against Paul Geaney.

Donal Vaughan could be handed the Kieran Donaghy brief, while Seamus O’Shea may be asked to perform a Colm Cavanagh-style role by dropping deep alongside sweeper Higgins to protect Vaughan – especially if the 28-year-old goes on one of his trademark bursts up the field.

Whether Lee Keegan lines out at midfield, or in the half-back line, could also have a major bearing on the outcome, although there is an outside chance Rochford could put his best man-marker on danger man Geaney.

LAST CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING

2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay: Kerry 3-16 Mayo 3-13 (AET)

TWO penalties from James O’Donoghue helped send Kerry into the All-Ireland final after an enthralling battle at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly had the chance to win it for the Connacht champions with the final kick of normal time, but came up short with a last-gasp free.

Kerry had recovered from being seven points down in the opening half to trail by a goal at the interval and it took a late point from Donal Vaughan to force extra-time with the scores 3-11 each.

The sides were level at 3-13 apiece at half-time in extra-time before Kerry pushed on to secure a place in the final.

LAST 10 CHAMPIONSHIP MEETINGS

2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay: Kerry 3-16 Mayo 3-13 (AET)

2014 All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Kerry 1-16 Mayo 1-16

2011 All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Kerry 1-20 Mayo 1-11

2006 All-Ireland SFC final: Kerry 4-15 Mayo 3-5

2005 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final: Kerry 2-15 Mayo 0-18

2004 All-Ireland SFC final: Kerry 1-20 Mayo 2-9

1997 All-Ireland SFC final: Kerry 0-13 Mayo 1-7

1996 All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Kerry 1-10 Mayo 2-13

1981 All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Kerry 2-19 Mayo 1-6

1969 All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Kerry 0-14 Mayo 1-10

Maurice Deegan showed a black card to Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly in last year's All-Ireland SFC final replay. Picture by Seamus Loughran

WHO’S THE REF?

Maurice Deegan (Laois)

MAYO know Maurice Deegan fairly well by this stage. The Laois whistler refereed last year’s All-Ireland final replay, and was also in the middle when Mayo just got over the line against Derry in July. There was a wild atmosphere when these counties last met in the Championship, three years ago in Limerick, and Deegan will need to use all his experience to keep a lid on emotions.

WEATHER WATCH

LOOKS like being cloudy around Croke Park tomorrow afternoon, with rain showers highly likely. Gloves a must.

BETTING BOX

Kerry 1/2; Draw 8/1; Mayo 5/2

Handicap

Kerry (-2) 5/6; Draw (-2) 9/1; Mayo (+2) 6/5

First goalscorer

James O’Donoghue (Kerry) 6/1; Paul Geaney (Kerry) 6/1; Cillian O’Connor 10/1

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Become a subscriber and get full access

GAA Football

Today's horoscope

Horoscope


See a different horoscope: