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3 big game talking points from Mayo v Donegal


A BELMULLET SANDWICHDonegal’s Michael Murphy is held by Mayo’s Chris Barrett and Eoin O’Donoghue as Aidan O’Shea lies on the ground during Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC clash in Castlebar.  Pic: Sportsfile

1 Hennelly returns to number one

IT had been well-flagged in advance that David Clarke was going to miss the Donegal game after injuring his ribs against Meath two weeks ago. So Rob Hennelly had plenty of time to get his head around the fact that he was going to start after five matches on the bench.
Hennelly and James Horan will surely be satisfied with how things panned out; his kick-outs were varied and largely profitable for Mayo while he dealt with the one high ball that dropped under his crossbar confidently, punching it over with Michael Murphy charging at him like a raging bull!
He was outfoxed by Murphy with his penalty, but there’s no shame in that!

2 Mayo’s big match-ups work out very well
THE result nearly always dictates people’s perception of the success or failure of match-ups, but there was absolutely no doubt about how James Horan’s big calls worked against Donegal. Paddy Durcan blotted out Ryan McHugh, and the stats back that up.
Durcan, who had missed two games in a row, had 18 possessions and scored three points from play while Donegal’s dynamo had 13 possessions and failed to score for the first time in five games.
Up the field, Lee Keegan tagged Michael Murphy until he picked up a yellow card and the Donegal captain took up residence at full-forward. Keegan had more possessions than any other player (25) while Murphy had the ball in his hand 20 times in open play.
He finished with two points from play.

3 Tom’s miraculous recovery lifts spirits
THE sight of Tom Parsons’ name in the match programme last Saturday was bettered only by the sight of him running out on to the pitch at MacHale Park with his team-mates before the match. He got an incredible reception.
It was only 15 months since he had suffered an horrific leg injury on the same field against Galway, and only Tom and his wife, Carol, know exactly how hard the road to recovery must have been. There were real fears that Tom would never play at this level again, but by all accounts he has been showing well in Mayo’s A versus B games in recent weeks.
Having him in the squad against Donegal was a huge psychological boost for Mayo.

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