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‘This is Mayo's league final’


FEELING THE PAIN Mayo’s Lee Keegan receives treatment on his injured shoulder from Dr Seán Moffatt and Martin McIntyre during Sunday’s National League match in Castlebar. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

MAYO manager Stephen Rochford has described next Sunday’s crunch match against Donegal in Ballybofey as ‘a league final’ with the losers of the game to be relegated to Division 2.
Last Sunday’s shock defeat to Tyrone was Mayo’s fourth loss of an underwhelming Division 1 campaign, with home defeats to Kerry, Dublin and the Ulster champions leaving them scrambling to stay in the top-flight.
“I don’t think too many teams have got a victory in Ballybofey in the last four or five years,” Rochford told The Mayo News last Sunday.
“It’s a massive, massive game. It’s a league final in essence.
“But at the same time, we have it within our own control and we’ll travel to Ballybofey knowing exactly that.”
Mayo haven’t been out of Division 1 for 20 years but they need to either beat Donegal, or get a draw, if they’re to extend that remarkable record.
If they are to get the result they need, they will have to do so without Lee Keegan who suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder against Tyrone last Sunday.
The former Footballer of the Year was taken from MacHale Park to the nearby Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar by ambulance after sustaining the injuring following a heavy challenge from Tyrone’s Padraig McNulty.
It was deemed a red card offence by the referee.
Keegan now faces a race against time to be fit for Mayo’s Connacht championship clash with Galway on May 13.
Initial speculation suggests that the Westport defender will be out of action for at least six weeks, although he is due to have an MRI scan to assess the full extent of the injury today (Tuesday).
With Brendan Harrison and Donie Vaughan not yet ready to return to action, and no update on Keith Higgins’ availability or otherwise for next weekend at the time of writing, Mayo’s defensive options are now well stretched.
However, Chris Barrett did play for an hour for Belmullet in the Mayo Senior League against Davitts last Saturday at centre-back in his comeback game following knee surgery before Christmas.
As a result, he may be back in Mayo’s match-day squad for next weekend.
The Mayo News understands that Mayo captain, Cillian O’Connor, who left the field due to a hamstring injury after eleven minutes last Sunday, could also be out of action for up to six weeks.
The Ballintubber forward is due to have an MRI scan on his injured left leg today (Tuesday) to determine the exact grade of tear on his hamstring.
Next Sunday’s match between Mayo and Donegal throws-in at 3pm at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey.
The Tir Chonaill men haven’t lost a league or championship match at the venue for eight years.

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