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Three key questions for Mayo

Three key questions for Mayo

Mike Finnerty

1 Can Mayo keep a clean sheet?
TWO first half goals for Cork last weekend set them on their way to an easy victory over Down. Once the All-Ireland champions got out in front, they closed the game out impressively.
It is absolutely imperative that Mayo don’t concede any goals next weekend.
Robbie Hennelly has only been beaten once in Mayo’s last two outings but Cork’s attack is far superior to anything that either Galway or Roscommon could muster in Connacht.
Even without their injured trio of Goulding, Sheehan and O’Neill, the All-Ireland champions still possess an array of potential goalscorers.
Mayo will have to pack their defence and try and close off any gaps that Cork’s runners could exploit. In this regard, wing-forwards Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran could end up playing quite a bit of the game in their own half.

2 Will Mayo win enough ball?
THERE is no team in the country like Cork to win possession around the middle of the field. It is the platform on which they have built all their recent successes and it allows them a plentiful supply of ball for their forwards to work with.
Mayo’s kick-outs will be crucial next weekend. Robbie Hennelly has been kicking to ‘the contest’ so far this summer and, by and large, Mayo have held their own in the possession stakes.
The O’Shea brothers apart, there aren’t too many other obvious targets for Hennelly to hit.
It will be fascinating to see how Mayo retain possession from their own restarts, while the likes of Richie Feeney, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon and Andy Moran will have to ‘die on breaks’ when Cork’s kick-outs drop.
It is also vital that Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh aren’t allowed to dominate.

3 Can our forwards hurt Cork?
IT’S safe to assume that Mayo’s forwards will be hoping for the weather to improve ahead of the Quarter-Final.
Two bad days, borrowed straight from deepest, darkest winter, have denied the likes of Alan Freeman and Jason Doherty the chance to cut loose and play ball in the last two games.
As a consequence, Mayo’s attack haven’t been shooting the lights out from open play. In fact, the starting forwards managed just three points from play in the Connacht Final and it took them a long time to get going against Galway.
James Horan will want next weekend’s game to be a low-scoring affair; a shoot-out would certainly play right into Cork’s hands, and no better men to run up a big tally at HQ.
So Mayo will need to squeeze some badly-needed scores out of their new-look attacking division.

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