/ GAA

Mayo face Kingdom test without star player Cora Staunton

Updated: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 18:26 | Comments

Aisling Leonard returns to the Kingdom fold
Aisling Leonard returns to the Kingdom fold

Mayo will be without forward Cora Staunton and All Star goalkeeper Yvonne Byrne for Sunday’s pivotal Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 clash with Kerry.

The Westerners need a positive result to remain in contention for a top-four finish, but nine-time All Star Staunton and netminder Byrne will not feature as they are currently abroad.

Kerry will have home advantage at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney and a win for the Munster champions would all but guarantee a semi-final spot.

Kerry received a points boost when Laois decided to concede a rearranged fixture that was scheduled for Wednesday evening.

But manager William O’Sullivan has admitted that he would have preferred the chance to win the game on the field of play.

Laois, who are safe from the threat of relegation, had agreed to a midweek re-fixture under lights but informed Kerry late on Tuesday night that they would not be travelling south.

O’Sullivan said: “We needed the match. We have players coming back from injury and abroad, who haven’t kicked a ball for the bones of a year and a half, two years.

"The unlimited use of subs in the league can be handy to get players back into the football" - Kerry manager William O’Sullivan

“We were hoping to have that (Laois) game. It was the second postponement and we’d gone out of our way to try and fix a date for the Wednesday.

“Laois felt the same at the time and we were delighted that neither side was conceding points.

“It was an awful pity that it fell through. The unlimited use of subs in the league can be handy to get players back into the football.

“In the greater scheme of things, if the two-up and two-down system was still in place, Laois might have thought a bit differently about coming down.

“That’s the one fault about the league – the lack of competition at the end of the table which can lead to these things happening.”

O’Sullivan is preparing to welcome back Aisling Leonard for the Mayo clash, after the defender missed the 2013 campaign because of travel commitments.

And O’Sullivan explained: “Aoife Lyons was away earlier this year, Caroline Kelly hasn’t kicked a ball yet after she picked up a knee injury skiing at the start of the year and we haven’t seen the college players like Lorraine Scanlon and Claire O’Sullivan.

“It will be nice for them to get a run out. Aisling Leonard hasn’t been around since the All-Ireland final of 2012 and she’s a big player for us.

“We certainly missed her last year.”

O’Sullivan also believes that the absence of free-scoring Staunton will provide Kerry with a different kind of problem.

He explained: “Mayo have four or five exceptionally good forwards in my book. Sometimes Mayo can get a bit one-dimensional with Cora and it will be interesting to see how they react. I don’t think it will be any less of a challenge with Cora missing. The ball could be spread around a bit more.

“Mayo are a very good side and I think they have the best team that they have had for a while. I see them as major contenders for the big prizes.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, holders Cork entertain Laois at Cork IT and Tyrone, safe from relegation, have home advantage against a Dublin side on course for a finishing position in the top four. 

FIXTURES

Sunday 30 March 

TESCO Homegrown National Football League Division 1

Tyrone v Dublin
TBC, 2pm 

Cork v Laois
Cork IT, 2pm 

Kerry v Mayo
Fitzgerald Stadium, 2pm 

TESCO Homegrown National Football League Division 2

Clare v Westmeath
TBC, 2pM

Fermanagh v Cavan
Kinawley, 2pm 

Meath v Galway
TBC, 2pm

TESCO Homegrown National Football League Division 3

Offaly v Wexford
TBC, 2pm 

Armagh v Sligo
Silverbridge, 2pm 

Tipperary v Longford
Monroe, 2pm

Waterford v Leitrim
Fraher Field, 2pm 

TESCO Homegrown National Football League Division 4

Limerick v Antrim
TBC, 12pm 

Wicklow v Derry
TBC, 2pm 

Roscommon v Louth
Strokestown, 2pm 

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