Healthy selection dilemma for Rochford ahead of Dublin clash

WHEN Mayo senior team manager Stephen Rochford and his selectors sit down to pick the starting 15 for Saturday night's much awaited national league with Dublin in Croke Park, they will have a different problem to contend with for the first time this year. . .a selection dilemma.

With a number of players back in contention following club commitments, two back after suspension, a number back in action after injury, plus some outstanding performances by some of the relative new players, it is going to be very interesting to see who starts against the Dubs.

Although a Mayo team will most likely be announced on Friday night it will be much closer to the 7 p.m. thrown in on Saturday evening before we will know for certain what 15 will start against Dublin.

At a first glance, following Mayo's improved performance against Roscommon, it would hard to envisage many changes.

However, while the management will have been fairly happy with most of the players' performances against Roscommon, there are a few areas they will looking for improvement against Dublin.

The fact that Roscommon created three or four good goal chances, and only for the brilliance of 'keeper David Clarke could have three green flags waved against them, not to mention having 15 wides, are certainly areas that the management will be examining.

It is possible the management will make at least three changes to the team from the one which started against Roscommon.

Both Brendan Harrison and Lee Keegan, who came off the bench against Roscommon, are likely to start.

Indeed, the six defenders who started against Dublin in the All-Ireland final replay last October could easily start in defence on Saturday evening.

It will be interesting to see who they select in the middle of the field. Both Diarmuid O'Connor and Jason Gibbons did very well against Roscommon in this area.

Indeed, such was O'Connor's performance that he has now given the management extra midfield options.

However, for the Dublin game I expect O'Connor will be restored to his half forward position and Tom Parsons is likely to partner Gibbons in the middle of the field.

Up front we can expect the management to make few changes. It would come as no surprise to see just one change from the Roscommon game, Diarmuid O'Connor replacing Conor O'Shea.

However, with Jason Doherty and Aidan O'Shea unavailable through injury, the likes of Conor Loftus and Liam Irwin could also come into the reckoning to at least play some part in the game.

With Mayo shy in front of goals, Irwin's inclusion at some stage (hopefully a lot sooner than when brought on against Roscommon) could be interesting, as he is a real goal poacher.

There is little doubt the competition for starting places on the Mayo team is hotting up, especially as a number of the younger players in the county are beginning to take their chances with open arms.

I am sure some of the regulars who have been around for some time with the county senior team are beginning to look over their shoulders and realise they are no longer certain of their place.

As for the game against Dublin it will come as no surprise to see the following team start.

David Clarke, Brendan Harrison, Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins, Stephen Coen, Colm Boyle, Patrick Durcan, Tom Parsons, Jason Gibbons, Fergal Boland, Kevin McLoughlin, Diarmuid O'Connor, Andy Moran, Cillian O'Connor, Evan Regan.