Five Minors promoted to U-21 starting team
FIVE of Mayo’s All-Ireland winning minor team from last September have been named in the county U-21 side for the Connacht Championship opener against Roscommon at MacHale Park, Castlebar tomorrow evening (Wednesday).
Niall Heffernan’s entire midfield diamond is comprised of 2013 Minors with Stephen Coen, Padraic Prendergast, Diarmuid O’Connor and Michael Plunkett holding down the pivotal positions.
Balla’s Matthew Flanagan, substitute goalkeeper on last year’s Minor team, has been handed the number one shirt.
Meanwhile, Breaffy’s Conor O’Shea, who has been sidelined with a groin injury for most of the last twelve months, has been named at corner-forward.
One of four survivors from last year’s first fifteen that lost their opening game to Galway, O’Shea will be starting just his fourth competitive match in the last year.
The other links with the 2013 U-21 side are Aidan Butler, Adam Gallagher and Evan Regan.
However, Niall Heffernan and his selectors Dermot Costello and Tommy O’Boyle will be without 2013 Mayo Minors Conor Loftus and Eddie Doran (both injured) and Castlebar Mitchels duo Patrick and James Durcan (club commitments).
Mayo are looking to end a run of four years without a win in the competition. A semi-final spot against Sligo is up for grabs for the winner.
Last year’s beaten Connacht finalists Roscommon come into the game off the back of a fine start to the season, having won the Hastings Cup to start the season. They have won two titles since Mayo’s last win in 2009, and were left reeling after an extra-time loss to eventual All-Ireland champions Galway last year.
“They are a really fine side,” said Heffernan. “The Hastings Cup highlighted that. There is a lot of quality there coming through from the minors over the past few years and while we have home advantage, it is going to be a huge challenge.”
Matthew Flanagan (Balla); Kevin Lynch (Mayo Gaels), Liam Kitterick (Westport), Aidan Butler (Claremorris); Cian Burke (Ballymun Kickhams), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites); Padraic Prendergast (Louisburgh), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); Gareth O’Donnell (Charlestown), Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber), Adam Gallagher (Mayo Gaels, captain); James Shaughnessy (Claremorris), Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites), Conor O’Shea (Breaffy).
Subs: Shane Keane (Crossmolina), Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis), Michael Hall (Breaffy), Brian Murphy (Ballintubber), Darragh Ruane (Moy Davitts), Sean Regan (Ballina Stephenites), Steven Conroy (The Neale), Anthony Jordan (Moy Davitts), Liam Irwin (Breaffy).
Connacht U-21 Championship
Mayo v Roscommon
Wednesday, March 12
Castlebar at 7.30pm