ON THE BIG STAGE?Patrick Durcan is pictured in action for Mayo against Monaghan in the National League on Sunday. He is unavailable for the clash with Derry.?Pic: Michael Donnelly
Winning team to be changed as U-21s miss trip to Derry
COMPETITION for places in the Mayo team to face Derry in Celtic Park next Sunday will be intense this week with at least four changes expected to be made after the win over Monaghan.
U-21 trio Stephen Coen, Patrick Durcan and Diarmuid O’Connor — all of whom started last Sunday’s game — are unavailable for selection as they have been released back to Niall Heffernan’s U-21 squad who are preparing to play in the Connacht championship on Wednesday, March 11.
Michael Hall, who was among the Mayo substitutes on Sunday last, will not be in the senior frame next weekend either.
Mayo joint manager Pat Holmes also told The Mayo News on Sunday evening that he didn’t expect Donie Vaughan to have recovered from a hamstring injury in time to face Derry.
The Ballinrobe clubman limped off at half-time against Monaghan and was replaced by league debutant Danny Kirby from Castlebar Mitchels.
Experienced duo Ger Cafferkey and Colm Boyle are among those in line to return to the Mayo defence with the aforementioned Kirby and Alan Freeman also coming into contention to replace Vaughan and O’Connor respectively.
Mayo are expected to name their team to take on Derry on Thursday night.
The homeside drew away to Tyrone last Saturday night to pick up their first point of the campaign.
Manager Brian McIver will be without the Slaughtneil contingent as they count down to this month’s All-Ireland club football final against Corofin, but key forward Eoin Bradley has returned to the Derry panel again this season.
Sunday will be Mayo’s first trip to Celtic Park since 2010.
MEANWHILE, Pat Holmes has also confirmed that five more players will be released from the panel in the coming weeks when team management settle on a championship squad of 32.
Holmes and Noel Connelly started out with 47 players in their extended training panel ahead of the National League but that figure has now been reduced to 37.
Holmes told The Mayo News that ‘it’s always difficult’ to release players following the news that eight footballers were dropped from the senior panel two weeks ago, and two more were allowed to rejoin Niall Heffernan’s U-21 group.
“Everybody that was in there on the 47 was working hard and wanted to be involved in the Mayo set-up for the coming months and the championship,” admitted the Mayo joint manager. “We had a number of calls to make and we made them.
“The panel is open-ended, and it’s not going to be a situation where it’s a set 32. If somebody is playing well then they’ll get their opportunity to come back in and somebody else will drop out. That’s the way it will be right through the summer.”
Among those hoping to force back into the Mayo management’s plans in the near future will be Cathal Carolan and Shane McHale, both of whom are on the road to recovery following their long-term injuries, and Richie Feeney who was married over Christmas and was subsequently injured while on Sigerson Cup duty with NUI, Galway.
NFL Division 1
Derry v Mayo
Sunday, March 8
Celtic Park at 2.30pm
Referee: C Branagan (Down)