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3 big Connacht Final questions

Sport

Edwin McGreal

1
Who will Croke Park suit more?
THERE has been talk of little else all week but the decision to play the game at Croke Park, and for every person you would find in favour, you would find someone else vehemently opposed to it.
But we think if you did a poll of the players from both sides, you’d find broad favour for the move.
Certainly this would be the case within the Mayo squad, many of whom have declared their zeal for playing in HQ.
They have had some huge wins there over the years – consider that the All-Ireland Final defeat to Donegal in 2012 was the last time that any team except Dublin beat them there – and the fast surface and open spaces suit their style of play.
Galway have a poor record in Croke Park in recent years but they’re a team with big ambitions and know they need to turn that around sometime. Doing so against the neighbours would make it twice as sweet.

2 Where are Mayo at right now?
THIS is the question everyone has been asking since the All-Ireland final last December and we will get our firmest indication yet on Sunday.
The retirement of six stalwarts back in January – two of whom were starters last year – has robbed Mayo of much leadership and experience.
A spell in Division 2 has also shown how far removed Mayo are from that level now with only parts of the Westmeath and Clare games representing anything resembling a test.
This Mayo team have looked good in the championship so far but both Sligo and Leitrim were both a long way off the standards they would set for themselves, never mind Mayo’s level.
Ergo, the 70 minutes next Sunday will arguably tell us more about Mayo in 2021 than the 420 plus minutes of football that preceded it.

3 What team will James Horan pick?
IS Lee Keegan fit? Or Kevin McLoughlin? Will Diarmuid O’Connor be available?
Or Bryan Walsh? Or Eoghan McLaughlin?
A positive answer to enough of those questions will make predicting the starting Mayo XV that bit easier. And, obviously, strengthen James Horan’s hand considerably.
Will Padraig O’Hora retain his starting place and possible pair off with Damien Comer for a duel? Where does Horan see Aidan O’Shea featuring against Galway in Croker?
The match-ups will be fascinating too. If Shane Walsh is fit, does Paddy Durcan continue to mark him or might it be a role for Oisin Mullin?
Will the two midfield Matthews (Ruane and Tierney) pair off in a battle of the up and coming centre-fielders?
And, with the opposition of a much higher level than heretofore, how keenly will Mayo feel Cillian O’Connor’s absence?
So many questions and we’ll get some, most or all of the answers on Sunday in Croke Park.

 

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