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Sunday 17 December 2017

Mayo to jump Leitrim hurdle with ease

THEY haven't gone away, you know. Mayo's hit-and-miss snipers return to action for the first time in eight weeks, hoping to banish the memory of a league final that promised plenty for 35 minutes and ended up delivering nothing but further Croke Park pain.

Mayo scored just two points during that second half fadeout against Cork, so maybe it's no surprise that two of the three changes to James Horan's starting 15 are in the full-forward line.

There is obviously some surprise that one of the two omitted happens to be Conor Mortimer, although Mayo's all-time record scorer endured something of a horror show in the shadow of Eoin Cadogan last day out. The recall of Alan Freeman and more especially Jason Doherty suggests Horan wants to instil a greater goalscoring threat.

What else will the Mayo manager demand tomorrow? Well, apart from the obligatory win that should be a basic requirement when Division One meets Division Four, Horan will want to see his team play with the intensity of a team that some regard as All-Ireland dark horses.

Immediately after the Cork game, he lamented Mayo's failure to play at their usual "tempo" -- the same rhythm that had destroyed Dublin and squeezed out Kerry (after extra-time) in the preceding weeks.

With or without that tempo -- and even without their still-absent midfield lynchpin, Aidan O'Shea -- Mayo are sure to have too much power and guile for a team that finished fifth in the basement division and then barely struggled past London in their quarter-final.

ODDS: Mayo 1/50, Draw 25/1, Leitrim 11/1

VERDICT: Mayo

MAYO: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, D Geraghty; K McLoughlin, C O'Connor, A Dillon; A Freeman, A Moran, J Doherty.

LEITRIM: C McCrann; D Beck, F McMorrow, P Maguire; C Clarke, E Williams, W McKeon; D Sweeney, S Moran; P Brennan, E Mulligan, P McGowan; R Cox, J Glancy, A Croal.

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