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The curious Colm Boyle case, O'Shea and Donaghy roles, Keegan form - Kerry-Mayo talking points

The sides replay from 3pm at Croke Park on Saturday.

AS THEY WERE in 2014, Kerry and Mayo are preparing for an All-Ireland senior football semi-final replay.

The sides finished deadlocked at 2-14 apiece and they’ll meet again at Croke Park on Saturday for the right to play Dublin or Tyrone in the final on 17 September.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

There were so many talking points to emerge from the drawn game and the rematch is sure to leave us with even more.

Here, we look ahead to what’s sure to be a nail-biting encounter back at GAA HQ…

1. What to do with Aidan O’Shea?

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It seems that almost everybody’s had their say on Aidan O’Shea following last Sunday’s draw, but specifically, in terms of where he was asked to play.

The Mayo colossus was at midfield for the throw-in at the start of both halves but spent the vast majority of the game tracking Kieran Donaghy in a defensive role.

It had been anticipated that Donie Vaughan would pick up Donaghy but, in a surprise move, O’Shea trotted back to go man-on-man with the Kerry totem.

Donal Vaughan Mayo's Donal Vaughan. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Donaghy was involved in the creation of 2-4 and scored a point himself but O’Shea’s presence curtailed Kerry’s use of the long ball.

O’Shea will surely start further forward this time – and he would be a more than useful presence around the middle of the field.

Mayo struggled on their own kick-outs and some of David Clarke’s short ones were in the ‘high risk’ category.

But with O’Shea and Tom Parsons around the middle, Mayo have proven and bona-fide jumpers to contest longer deliveries from Clarke.

2. Will Colm Boyle last the 70 minutes?

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Colm Boyle is one of Mayo’s most consistent performers – and has been a tower of strength in championship 2017.

But last Sunday, he was called ashore long before the end for the third time in four outings.

It’s obviously a pre-planned move on Mayo’s behalf but the timing of it in the drawn game was peculiar, considering the huge influence that Boyle was exerting on proceedings.

He’d scored a first half goal and looked to be motoring well but Stephen Rochford will point out that Boyle’s replacement, Patrick Durcan, was the man who kicked the late equaliser.

But Boyle is one of Mayo’s proven ‘clutch’ players – and a key component of regular attacking waves with his running power.

3. Lee Keegan to bounce back to form

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Lee Keegan cut a subdued figure last Sunday, as Kerry’s Paul Murphy placed him on the back foot.

Keegan was named at wing-back but played further forward and struggled to exert any real influence on the game.

It was one of his poorest displays in some time but we can expect a much bigger impact from the 2016 Footballer of the Year in the rematch.

Keegan’s a proven big-game player and it’s possible that the injury that ruled him out of the Roscommon replay may still be a factor.

Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

What Mayo need is Keegan on the front foot and dictating the terms of engagement against his direct opponent.

Far too often, it was Murphy who was calling the tune and dragging Keegan with him.

Keegan’s been scoring for fun this summer but his radar was off last Sunday from a presentable chance and it’s unlikely that the Westport man will produce another 5/10 display.

4. Expect another big Kieran Donaghy impact

Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

We flagged the potential impact of Kieran Donaghy ahead of last Sunday’s match and boy did he deliver.

The Austin Stacks man showed, once again, that he’s not just a target man, however, moving freely around the Kerry forward line and creating scores for others around him.

Donaghy’s renowned for his high-fielding ability but his footballing skills are of the highest quality, and under-rated by many.

His barn-storming display first time out has left Mayo with a real conundrum.

It’s highly unlikely that Aidan O’Shea will pick him up and that begs the question – who will?

Could Barry Moran be drafted in from the start or could manager Stephen Rochford ask Lee Keegan to sit deep on Donaghy?

Barry Moran Mayo's Barry Moran. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Keegan was excellent last year in man-marking roles on Galway’s Shane Walsh, Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh and Tipperary All-Star Michael Quinlivan.

While Rochford has other defensive options, asking O’Shea to sacrifice his own game and drop so far back last Sunday surely hints at a lack of trust in his back men.

5. 2014 revisited – but this time in Croker

Bryan Sheehan, Kieran O'Leary and Declan O'Sullivan celebrate at the end of the game Kerry celebrate replay victory over Mayo in 2014. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 2014 replay between Mayo and Kerry was a rip-roaring encounter.

But it was played out in the unfamiliar surroundings of Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds, with Croke Park unavailable for the rematch because of a college American Football that was fixed for the Drumcondra venue.

The replay had it all however, from the standard of play on the pitch to Mayo Mick’s pitch invasion and a Garda escort for ref Cormac Reilly.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Replays generally don’t follow a similar pattern to their predecessors and that’s what makes this one even more intriguing.

There were so many sub-plots last weekend that nobody bar players and the respective management teams saw coming.

And fans can brace themselves for more surprises, as Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Rochford plot quietly behind the scenes.

If Donnchadh Walsh is fit, he’ll surely earn a recall, while Fionn Fitzgerald and Jack Barry could also come into the mix for Kerry.

6. Mayo run reviving Tyrone 2005 memories

Captain Brian Dooher lifts the Sam Maguire trophy Brian Dooher lifts Sam for Tyrone in 2005. Source: ©INPHO

In 2005, Tyrone embarked on a ten-game summer season (including three replays, two in the Ulster championship) that took them all the way to All-Ireland glory.

The Red Hands lost the Ulster final to Armagh but still bounced back to claim the biggest prize of all – seeing off Monaghan, Dublin (after a replay), Armagh and Kerry to lift Sam Maguire.

If Mayo are to finish the season as All-Ireland champions – and they avoid another rematch – they’ll have played ten matches in the 2017 campaign.

It’s been a gruelling trek for the green and red, with extra-time factored in against Derry and Cork along the way, as well as a replay with Roscommon and now another against Kerry, and nobody could begrudge them the Holy Grail if they do manage to see it out from here.

Many are waiting for Mayo to run out of gas but there’s also been a noticeable incremental improvement as they ventured deeper into the championship.

Get past Kerry, which is a big ask, and they’ll present massive final opposition for Dublin or Tyrone on 17 September.


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