All-Ireland SFC final: Mayo and Tyrone player-by-player ratings

By Frank Roche and Colm Keys

Mayo -119/160

3 May 2021; Rob Hennelly during a Mayo football squad portrait session at Elverys MacHale Park in Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile


Rob Hennelly - 8

Age: 31

Club: Breaffy

Has endured his share of All-Ireland trauma but now, as undisputed No 1, appears to have grown in confidence. Excellent restarts in the last two games, plus those redemptive dead-ball strikes against Dublin. Just needs not to complicate things.

Padraig O'Hora - 7

Age: 28

Club: Ballina Stephenites

From RTE’s ‘Ultimate Hell Week’ to pony-tailed cult hero. Has gone from the fringes to the front line during a standout summer. Marries aggression and adhesive marking with some superb tackling technique, as Galway and Dublin have discovered.

Lee Keegan - 9

Age: 31

Club: Westport

An all-time great who defied talk of waning powers with a superlative mix of turnovers, tenacity and his old counter-attacking swash and buckle against the Dubs. Not as quick as he once was, but still has all the cussedness for a man-marking brief.

Michael Plunkett during a Mayo football squad portrait session at Elverys MacHale Park in Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Plunkett - 6

Age: 25

Club: Ballintubber

Still relatively unheralded, but he has quietly gone about his business while starting all four SFC games this summer. Could well end up in a ‘sweeping’ role at times, and as the starting point for attacks from deep.

Mayo's Patrick Durcan tussles with Jonny Cooper of Dublin during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Patrick Durcan - 9

Age: 26 Club: Castlebar Mitchels

As the veterans have departed, one by one, Durcan’s influence keeps growing. A leader blessed with God-given pace, shrewd defensive instincts and a counter-attacking thrust that often ends with a score. One of a rare breed: a back who needs marking.

Stephen Coen - 7

Age: 25

Club: Hollymount/Carramore

Unsung but steady as a rock; captaincy material minus the armband. Previously had a tendency to cough up possession under pressure, but his passing against Dublin was assured, and he could have a key marking role.

Enda Hession - 7

Age: 20

Club: Garrymore

A surprise call-up but scarcely from leftfield either, given he started against Sligo and Leitrim, then produced such a compelling cameo of incisive running against Dublin. Conceivably could yet make way for Oisín Mullin – watch this space.

Matthew Ruane during a Mayo football squad portrait session at Elverys MacHale Park in Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Matthew Ruane - 8

Age: 24

Club: Breaffy

Potential Footballer of the Year; reserved his best for Galway but influential all summer. Solid in the air but his true forte is as a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder who can glide past opponents and finish (1-5 to date) like a forward.

Conor Loftus - 7

Age: 26

Club: Crossmolina Deel Rovers

Sure to dovetail between midfield and half-forward, an accurate passer whose attacking roots are reflected in 0-7 from play over four games. An underage star whose slow-burning senior career is on an upward trajectory.

Diarmuid O'Connor - 7

Age: 26

Club: Ballintubber

The two-time Young Footballer of the Year has an incredible engine and a keen eye for goal, but it’s been a stop-start summer. Hamstrung for two rounds, rusty against Galway, but his wide-preventing acrobatics against Dublin kept the dream alive.

Aidan O'Shea - 8

Age: 31

Club: Breaffy

Off-colour semi-final sparked a debate about his place; could now be the moment to banish his poor final record? Still hugely important, but surely best utilised further outfield as a kickout target, turnover king and creative foil for others.

Bryan Walsh - 6

Age: 25

Club: Ballintubber

Parachuted back into the first ‘15’ after a hard-working cameo against Dublin, capped by one superb dispossession of Colm Basquel. But this is a huge ask for a player whose last start, in the Connacht final, only lasted to half-time.

3 May 2021; Kevin McLoughlin during a Mayo football squad portrait session at Elverys MacHale Park in Mayo. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Kevin McLoughlin - 7

Age: 32

Club: Knockmore

The starting team’s elder statesman and one of their smartest footballers. Sharp on the breaks, an incisive passer and reliable source of ciotóg scores. Excelled off the bench against Galway, less so as a semi starter. Mayo need a big hour.

Tommy Conroy - 7

Age: 22

Club: The Neale

Two poor first halves against Galway and Dublin were eclipsed by his post-interval dash, showing a commendable trait to stick at it. A bundle of energy, direct and elusive – and never afraid to shoot, reflected in his 1-10 campaign total.

Ryan O'Donoghue - 8

Age: 23

Club: Belmullet

In the absence of Cillian O’Connor, he has blossomed into arguably Mayo’s key attacking cog. A savage worker whose on-the-ball contribution is even more impressive, both as intelligent link man and scorer of 2-19 from play and placed balls.

Bench Impact - 8

The impression of a weaker subs list is skewed if Oisín Mullin doesn’t start. Eoghan McLaughlin may also be available, Darren Coen and Jordan Flynn hit key scores against Dublin, while fit-again Brendan Harrison is a proven Plan B marker.

Tyrone -119/160

Niall Morgan during a Tyrone Football squad portraits session at the Tyrone GAA School of Excellence. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile


Niall Morgan - 8

Age: 30

Club: Edendork

So often mixes the sublime with the frustrating from kick-outs and general play but Morgan is, first and foremost, a very good footballer, quite comfortable in joining the play outfield when he feels the need. Commands his area well, gets off his line quick but can be rash when the pressure comes on.

Michael McKernan - 7

Age: 23

Club: Coalisland

Brings steel and athleticism to his defensive duties, regularly getting forward to join attacks as he did when scoring points in Tyrone's last two games. As comfortable at half-back.

Ronan McNamee - 8

Age: 30

Club: Aghyaran

Ironically, was never far off David Clifford the last day but still conceded eight points. McNamee, an Allstar in 2019, is one of Tyrone's most influential leaders who brings confidence and composure in possession and rarely makes mistakes.

Padraig Hampsey - 8

Age: 27

Club: Coalisland

The captain and Tyrone's most trusted defender, whether it's Michael Murphy, Conor McManus or Sean O'Shea as it was the last day who he is detailed to track. A hard competitor who doesn't panic with strong ball-playing qualities too. Has got forward to score points in his last two games.

Frank Burns - 7

Age: 26

Club: Pomeroy

Burns is effectively Tyrone's sweeper but like most of those prototype Tyrone players is equally comfortable at the other end of the field too. Great ball carrier with a deceptive sidestep and a good head for picking out the right pass.

Peter Harte during a Tyrone Football squad portraits session at the Tyrone GAA School of Excellence. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Peter Harte - 8

Age: 30

Club: Errigal Ciaran

Tyrone's longest serving player has been their most flexible asset in that time, sometimes to his cost. A 2016 All-Star, he has relocated to half-back with more permanence this year from where is better running on to the ball and has scored a point in each of their four games. Expert penalty-taker.

Kieran McGeary - 8

Age: 26

Club: Pomeroy

One of the strongest contenders for 'footballer of the year,' McGeary has been a revelation this summer, chiefly as a half-back from where he has made so many important carries and tackles, mixed with great vision and relentless running that has presented scoring opportunities.

Conn Kilpatrick - 6

Age: 24

Club: Edendork

More mobile than his midfield partner, Kilpatrick brings aggression, size and a strong work ethic in only his second season. The Edendork man is likely to be tasked with tracking Matthew Ruane's movement.

Brian Kennedy - 6

Age: 22

Club: Derrylaughan

One of Tyrone's most physical players has retained his place. A decent kick-out target who got a good goal against Cavan in the opening round, he has, nevertheless, been one of the first subbed off in their last three games.

Conor Meyler - 8

Age: 26

Club: Omagh

Gets some of the hardest jobs tracking the most mobile opponents, usually Ryan McHugh when it's Donegal, Monaghan's Ryan McAnespie and Paudie Clifford the last day. Disciplined and focused in his tracking he carried the ball and passes it well himself. Another prototype Tyrone player.


Michael O'Neill of Tyrone celebrates after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match win over Kerry. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael O'Neill - 6

Age: 24

Club: Ardboe

Another named in attack but who has a much more fluid role within the set up and more likely to be found in a defensive role where he has executed some big tackles this season, most notably against Sean O'Shea the last day.

Niall Sludden - 7

Age: 29

Club: Dromore

Fits seamlessly between half-back and half-forward where his shuffling runs gain ground and get opponents going backwards. So far this season he has contributed six points from that more advanced role.

Darren McCurry - 8

Age: 28

Club: Edendork

He didn't have it all his own way or anything like it in Tom O'Sullivan's company against Kerry but, on his day, McCurry is Tyrone's most accurate forward, capable of extraordinary moments with his left foot. Loves the big stage, he is Tyrone's leading scorer with 0-26, 0-11 from frees with two marks.

Matthew Donnelly of Tyrone. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Mattie Donnelly - 9

Age: 30

Club: Trillick

The two-time Allstar has been Tyrone's most consistent player of the last decade. presenting himself as an effective target man but inevitably it's when he comes out and gets on the ball that the biggest impact is felt. Few more composed and powerful in possession in the game who almost always makes good decisions.

Conor McKenna - 7

Age: 25

Club: Eglish

Scored two of the goals against Kerry but there is more in him as he continues to find his feet since his return almost a year ago from AFL. Sure to drop deep to the half-forward line and beyond where his athleticism and tackling are a factor.

Bench - 8

Cathal McShane has put his injuries behind him to come strong over the last two months, while Darragh Canavan has also got back from injury, making a decent contribution last time out. Tiernan McCann's pace and Mark Bradley's elusiveness late in a game can also trouble Mayo.


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