Mayo v Roscommon, Elverys MacHale Park, 7pm

Live blogs on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 6.30pm.

Live commentary on Saturday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1, from Brian Carthy and Eamonn O'Hara. 

Live coverage on Sky Sports Main Event. Also live overseason GAAGOHighlights of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game on RTÉ2 Television and the RTÉ Player from 9.30pm.

Saturday will be mild and humid with good deal of cloud and a little patchy light rain or drizzle at times. There will be some bright or sunny intervals also. Highest temperatures of 16 to 19 or 20 degrees with light to moderate westerly breezes. For more go to

A view of the last Connacht championship meeting between Mayo and Roscommon in 2014 

Castlebar blockbuster?

Hurling's round-robin format continues to excite, but here we have a football clash that has the potential to get us up off our seat. Mayo, with James Horan back at the helm and on the back of Division 1 league success, take on a Roscommon side under the shrewd management of Anthony Cunningham.

And while Mayo, boosted by an infusion of youth, have been the story of the spring, this is the first of what they hope are many tests that will take them well into the summer.

The Rossies got to the Super 8s last year and have had spells in the league's top flight. They won't fear their neighbours and if they are still in the mix going down the stretch, they will feel that anything is possible. Looking coldly at it, a lot more things will have to go right for the Primrose and Blue if they are to get their first win in Castlebar since 1986.

Mayo's second-half performance against Kerry in the league final was most impressive. Goals in that period from the new kids on the block, Matthew Ruane and Ciaran Treacy, and from captain Diarmuid O'Connor, illuminated what was a long overdue victory in a national final.

Five weeks later on a wet day in New York, the Green and Red were far too strong for the Exiles at Gaelic Park in their Connacht opener. Extra days were spent in the Big Apple by James Horan and his squad to further fine-tune preparations for this encounter.

It was time well spent, according to Horan. He told RTÉ Sport: "We had a very enjoyable couple of days away where we got a few training sessions in and had a a talk about a few things.

"The team have a huge amount of experience and knowledge of top level sport and if you don't use that experience you're daft.

"It's just about working together to see where we want to go and what we can achieve.

"All we are trying to do now is to wrap it up in a big performance against Roscommon. It's a challenge we're genuinely looking forward to."

The backup team

In his second coming as manager, Horan has decided to concentrate more on the coaching side of things, with Daniel Forde and James Burke assuming the role as team trainers. Forde has had much success with the St Gerald's College teams in recent seasons, while Burke will train the Mayo players based in the capital, a role he previously had in 2013 when Horan was last in charge.

Conor Finn is the strength and conditioning coach. The owner of a gym in Claremorris, Finn has been involved with Mayo teams since 2013. 

And then there is Joe Doyle, the operations manager, with responsibility for planning, logistics and organisation. The Wicklow native was also operations manager with Horan when he managed the Westport senior team .

It seems that the Mayo bainisteoir is determined to have the best people around him, perhaps swayed by what he observed in his time away from inter-county duties.         

As for plotting what happens on the field of play, the addition of Matthew Ruane, Fionn McDonagh, James Carr, Conor Diskin, Brian Reape and Michael Plunkett have given Mayo much more options,

Plunkett will make his championship debut on Saturday evening.

Rossies where they want to be

The high turnovers of players and a tendency to ship lots of scores has not helped Roscommon's cause against serious opposition in recent times. 

However, the recent league campaign, despite relegation, did see a more solidly sound outfit.

A fortnight ago, the Rossies ran out 14-point winners against Leitrim using their power and speed to burst through the heart of their opponents' defence.

Shane Killoran (2)  and Niall Kilroy raised green flags, the former being very impressive throughout.

Roscommon were physically more imposing than Leitrim. Mayo will be a different proposition. 

Shane Killoran in action against Mayo in last January's league clash

That said, manager Cunningham is happy where his side are at after another spring of facing the top sides.

Following the demolition of Leitrim, he told RTÉ Sport: "We were going well in training, and we were happy with our performances for the last few weeks, but you never know until you turn up.

"Our experience from the Division 1 league campaign, and the physicality of our guys... we were a bit stronger than the Leitrim defence.

"We would probably want to be finishing better, and we have work to do for the next 13 days. We were happy with the way we set up, and played and, particularly in the second-half, kept their scoring down.

"Shane had played wing-forward and midfield for us during the league, and he carried a bit of a knock into the game, but he got through it very well," said Cunningham of his double goal-scorer. "A tremendous player, and a great future ahead for him.

"We'll need to be at the top of our game when we face the might of Mayo in Castlebar, but that's where we want to be. We're really looking forward to that."

Team news

Michael Plunkett

Horan, who has yet to taste defeat against the Rossies in Connacht, has opted for three changes from the team that made light work of New York.

Chris Barrett, Michael Plunkett and captain Diarmuid O'Connor (back from injury) come into the side, with Colm Boyle, James McCormack and James Carr missing out.

Plunkett will make a first championship start. The Ballintubber man came on as a sub in America.

Anthony Cunningham has retained faith in the team that saw off Leitrim.

Mayo: Robert Hennelly, Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Patrick Durcan, Michael Plunkett, Lee Keegan, Matthew Ruane, Aidan O’Shea, Fergal Boland, Jason Doherty, Diarmuid O’Connor, Evan Regan, Darren Coen, Kevin McLoughlin

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley, David Murray, Sean Mullooly, Conor Daly, Niall Daly, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly, Tadgh O’Rourke, Shane Killoran, Hubert Darcy, Cathal Cregg, Niall Kilroy, Ultan Harney, Conor Cox, Diarmuid Murtagh


2017: Mayo 4-19 Roscommon 0-09 (All-Ireland quarter-final replay)
2017: Mayo 1-12 Roscommon 2-09 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
2014: Mayo 0-13 Roscommon 1-09 (Connacht semi-final)
2013: Mayo 0-21 Roscommon 0-09 (Connacht semi-final)
2011: Mayo 0-13 Roscommon 0-11 (Connancht final)