Cillian will captain Mayo but Keegan ruled out for Galway clash
ALTHOUGH there remains a major doubt that he will start against Galway on May 13, Mayo manager Stephen Rochford made it it clear that Cillian O'Connor will captain the team for the 2018 championship.
“Cillian has captained the team for the last two years and he will be captain again this year,” the Mayo manager stated.
Rochford said he expects Cillian to play some part in the game despite not being back in full training, while he does not expect Lee Keegan to play any part in the quarerfinal clash a against Galway, despite rumours that the Westport man is going well in training.
He expects Brendan Harrison, Keith Higigns, Chris Barrett and Donal Vaughan to be there or therabouts.
“Cillian has progressed well but isn't back into full training just yet. But we are confident that he will be involved.” he said.
In relation to Keegan, who had an operation on a shoulder injury he suffered in the league clash with Tyrone back in March, he said the 2016 GAA Player of the Yea, was doing some running but hasn't done any physical contact stuff during training.
"It's only seven weeks this weekend since his injury, which is six weeks post operation. He's back doing some running, but hasn't been in any contact. I don't see him partaking in the game.
“I know locally they're all thinking how did Robbie Henshaw got back. In a professional environment, more can be done. He (Keegan) isn't in our plans. We're planning very much without him,” he said.
He was more optimsitic about Brendan Harrison making an appearance.
“Brendan is in full training and he has had some game time with club,” he said.
Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett and Donal Vaughan will also be pushing for places.
“Keith Higgins is back training and going really well. I am really happy with his progress but he was not been exposed to top level football since the All-Ireland last year, not having played any league games but, like Chris (Barrett), Donal (Vaughan) and Brendan (Harrison) he will be pushing for a place,” he said.
In relation to the game itself, Rochford said Galway had now moved up the ladder to replace Mayo as the second best team to Dublin on the basis of their progress in the Naitonal League and puhsing Dublin al eh way in the final.
“We have lost the last two champiosnhip meetings, plus the league, to them but only by a score and we conceded some soft goals when we last met them, so I expect it it will be a tight one,” he said.
Galway manager Kevin Walsh, of course, saw it differently and said Mayo remain the second best team in the country.
He wouldn't be drawn on whether his young team are now genuine contenders for an All-Irleand said he was confdient they would hold their own agains any of the top teams.
"It was our first season in Division 1, we held our own, we are now playing the second best team in Ireland so we can’t be getting drawn into that,
"We just have to look at this game, wherever it takes us. We were seven years trying to get up to Division 1 and now that we got there it was always going to be a big spark factor for us,” he said.