A week ahead of our crunch final league match of the year, against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday, there was some unwelcome injury news today following the round of league matches that were played this afternoon.
The biggest concern relates to Barry Moran who, as Colm Gannon reported, lasted just three minutes of Castlebar’s league clash against Breaffy before he was carried off with what Midwest’s Angelina Nugent later reported to be a knee injury. There’s no indication as yet how serious the injury is and whether or not it’ll rule him out for next weekend. Breaffy won that match, by the way, by 1-8 to 0-10.
Club Mayo made the point shortly after word of Barry’s injury had leaked out that the task facing us in Cork would now be all the harder if Baz and Keith Higgins are both ruled out. I’d completely forgotten that Keith had gone off injured after his goal assist against Donegal last Sunday but of course he did and the hamstring tweak he suffered then could well mean that he’ll miss the Leeside showdown too. That’s not confirmed yet, either, though.
A bit later on this afternoon, Angelina was reporting that Aghamore’s Cathal Freeman was also a casualty today, as he hobbled off before the end of his side’s 0-12 to 0-7 win over Ballyhaunis. There’s no further news on what kind of injury was involved there.
Obviously, all this isn’t exactly what you’d like to hear in the run-up to what’s set to be an important match next weekend. Barry and Keith played major parts in last weekend’s morale boosting win over Donegal and it’d be shame if either or both weren’t fit to take part in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
That said, what’s more important is that both Barry and Keith are okay for Salthill in May. Keith should definitely be fine but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what, if any, long-term issues there are in relation to Barry’s injury. We can only hope that it’s not something that will rule him out for part of the summer action.
In terms of next Sunday, though, we just have to get on with it and view any absences as an opportunity for others to show what they can do. If Keith is out then it provides a chance for Donal Vaughan or Kevin Keane to reclaim a starting place or else it’s an opportunity for the likes of Michael Walsh or Shane McHale to be given a chance to shine. If Barry is unavailable then Jason Gibbons is the obvious replacement or else Aidan O’Shea could switch back to the middle, with maybe Brian Gallagher – whom James Horan enigmatically referred to as “the real deal” after his appearance from the bench in the Donegal match – starting in the half-forwards.
The bottom line is that we have a decent-sized squad and we shouldn’t be afraid to make use of the talent we have if this is what we have to do. One player we won’t be able to call upon any time soon, though, is Pearse Hanley: this report by Terry Reilly in yesterday’s Irish Examiner confirms that the Ballaghaderreen man plans to stay Down Under for some time to come.