GAA Football

Derry boss Mickey Donnelly aiming for skills to see off Mayo

Callum Brown (right) and his Derry team-mates celebrate after defeating Donegal in the Eirgrid Ulster GAA Football Under 20 Championship in June
Steven Doherty

All-Ireland U20FC semi-final: Today: Pairc Sean MacDiarmada, 4pm: Mayo v Derry

Derry manager Mickey Donnelly has kept faith with the same starting 15 that defeated Armagh in the Ulster final.

The Aghaloo man has resisted the temptation to draft in Slaughtneil's Brian Cassidy whose introduction in the 38th minute at Clones turned the game in Derry's direction.

Cassidy scored two game-winning second half goals, as well as nailing a couple of monster points for good measure as Derry lifted the inaugural Danny Murphy Cup.

School holidays have offered teacher Donnelly more than enough time to run his eye over tapes of opponents Mayo in action, but the Derry manager is much happier concentrating on coaching in the build up to Derry's All Ireland Under 20 semi-final with Mayo.

“You probably only watch the Connacht final (where Mayo roundly defeated Roscommon) the once and leave the real analysis to the likes of (analyst) Ben McGuckin,” said Donnelly.

“It is helpful, and I let the experts look after that.

“Ben will show you every clean catch, every kick-out and all the bits and pieces that give you an informed view of your opponent. But I'll concentrate more on us.”

Opponents Mayo arrive at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada relatively unscathed, with effortless wins over Leitrim and Roscommon seeing them breeze to the Connacht Championship.

They've been in irresistible form – teak tight at the back and majestic in attack.

Ross Egan is the undoubted marquee forward in a deadly Mayo frontline, amassing 0-20 over those two games, including eight points from play.

The Aghanmore star has found able support from Tommy Conroy, Oisin McLaughlin, Paul Lambert, and Colm Moran.

Ryan O'Donoghue's pace down the flanks, and ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over at regular intervals is an added weapon in manager Mike Solan's armoury.

“Aww they're a good side, very talented. And they're a big side,” said Donnelly.

“Physically they are going to cause us a lot of bother. But at the same time we're no shrinking violets ourselves.

“We've a lot of big men too – Callum (Brown), Oisin (McWilliams), Dara (Rafferty), CD (Conor Doherty), Oran (Hartin).

“Ultimately it's not a wrestling competition, it's a game of football and we hope our football skills can carry us through.”

Lorcan McWilliams and man of the match Declan Cassidy scored five points each in the victory of Armagh and get the nod again to spearhead the Oakleaf attack, along with18-year-old starlet Callum Brown.

Oisin McWilliams will drive at the Mayo from midfield and can also be expected to weigh in with a few scores of his own.

Drumsurn's Dara Rafferty has been named at midfield alongside McWilliams but will probably mind the house at full-back where he has been outstanding this season.

Senior players Conor McCluskey and Padraig McGrogan bring experience to Derry's half back line, with ‘Clucky' likely to be tasked with keeping Mayo danger man Ross Egan quiet.

Shea Downey brings leadership to Derry's half forward line with Steelstown's Ben McCarron offering pace and long range point scoring aptitude.

Mayo mananger Mike Solan makes just one change to his starting team. The injured Oisin Mullin is replaced by Colm Moran.

In the other All-Ireland U20FC semi-final Kerry take on Kildare at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.


Oran Hartin (Léim an Mhadaidh)

Sean McKeever (Dún Geimhin)

Conor McCluskey (Maichaire Fiolta)

Eoghan Concannon (Baile Stil)

Declan Cassidy (Baile Eachaidh)

Padraig McGrogan (An Droichead Nua)

Conleth McShane (Baile Eachaidh)

Conor Doherty (capt) (An Droichead Nua

Dara Rafferty (Droim Sorn)

Shea Downey (Leamhaigh)

Oisin McWilliams (An Suaitreach)

Mark McGrogan (An Droichead Nua)

Lorcan McWillams (An Suaitreach)

Callum Brown (Léim an Mhadaidh)

Ben McCarron (Baile Stil)


Patrick O'Malley (Westport)

Johnny Maughan (Castlebar Mitchels)

Brian O Malley (Westport)

John Cunnane (Ballyhaunis)

Paul Lambert (Westport)

Cathal Horan (Kilmovee)

Oisin McLaughlin (Westport)

Evan O Brien (Ballinrobe)

Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina Deel Rovers)

Nathan Moran (Hollymount/Carramore)

Ryan O Donoghue (capt) (Belmullet)

Tommy Conroy (The Neale)

Conor Diskin (Claremorris)

Ross Egan (Aghamore)

Colm Moran (Westport)

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