All-Ireland Minor Championship Quarter-Final
Kerry set to ask some major minor questions
THE county’s minor footballers prepare to meet the challenge of Kerry next Sunday, determined to make amends for their Connacht final defeat to Roscommon.
While the loss was a major blow to the morale of the Mayo team and management, they can be comforted by the knowledge that the same provincial final fate befell last year’s minor squad, who regrouped and marched onto the All-Ireland final. On the way to that final they dispatched Kerry in an epic semi-final.
Mayo selector Stephan Rochford told The Mayo News that he is looking for a similar result this time around. “We will be going into the game in an optimistic frame of mind,” he said. “We don’t fear anybody. If we get the run of the ball and a few lucky breaks then there is no reason why we cannot take the game.”
“The lads are all personally very disappointed about the way we lost out to Roscommon. They don’t want to be remembered as a bad team, and are really positive about going and proving that they are really a good side.”
Unfortunately, for Mayo, they have a number of injury doubts ahead of their showdown with the Munster champions. Full-back Francis Burke and forwards Gerry O’Boyle and Keith Glynn are all rated as ‘doubtful’ and the Mayo management have been quick to bring in cover.
“We have called Simon Ryan from the Neale and Ronan Conway from Breaffy into the panel and they have settled in quickly,“ admitted Rochford. “Unfortunately after the Connacht final there were rounds of club minor league, under 21, junior, intermediate and senior championship games. It’s not ideal for us but what can you do? Hopefully, everyone will be ok for the game and we can give it our best shot.”
If Mayo are to stand any chance of progressing to an All-Ireland semi-fimal then they will have to up their game considerably. Rochford conceded that Mayo do not know a lot about Kerry, but knows they are always a tough side to beat.
“When the draw was made after the defeat by Roscommon we were concentrating more on getting the team right than worrying about the opposition. Obviously, we know a bit about Kerry and know they have some very good players but we are confident in our own players too.”
Kerry have looked impressive so far this year and capturing their 39th provincial title earlier this month. They last won an All-Ireland minor title in 1994.
This year’s team contains some illustrious names harking back to the Kerry teams of the 70’s and 80’s. Tommy Walsh is the son of Seanie Walsh, David Moran is the son of the great Ogie Moran and Eoin Kennedy is the offspring of John Kennedy who won three senior titles in the mid 80’s, and is the current manager of the Kerry minors.
Walsh, in particular, has been in sparkling form this year and was man of the match in the Munster final, where his switch to midfield swung the game in Kerry’s favour. Another big game performer is team captain Paddy Curran, who is in his third year on the county panel and is being tipped as a major star over the next few years. He has amassed 1-13 in three games so far this year and will have to be closely watched if Mayo are to have any chance of winning.
At the back Brian Russell, is a tenacious corner back and we are in for a terrific individual duel if Michéal Moloney is deployed to man-mark Mayo captain Pierce Hanley, as expected.
However, Mayo have no reason to feel inferior and if their big players like Hanley, Brian Gibbons, Tom Parsons and Liam Tunney play to their potential then a cracking game is in prospect. Mayo might just bounce back in style.
All-Ireland Minor FC Quarter Final
Kerry v Mayo
Sunday, July 30 at 2pm
Cusack Park, Ennis