There’s a report in today’s Indo about Johnno’s plans for the NFL and Championship which, in part, appears to be lifted from this story in The Mayo News. At least the bit about plans for the forthcoming NFL is, with both reports saying that Trevor Howley (who we all know has an injury that will keep him out for a while longer) and Pat Harte (work commitments) won’t be available for the opening league match with Derry on Sunday week. The Indo report also states that Conor Mortimer won’t be available due to his well-publicised problems with his honker but Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News reckons that Mort is hopeful of being able to line out for DCU (what’s he studying for at DCU, by the way – the priesthood? Seems like he’s been there for ever) in this Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup final against Louth. If he does, then he should be okay for the match in Ballina a week later.
That Indo report also states that the plans for a 2004 redux trip to the Catskills in May have had to be shelved, as a number of the lads will have third-level (or, in the case of Aidan O’Shea and Kevin Keane, second-level) exams coming up soon after and so they wouldn’t have been able to go on the training camp. It’s a pity, as that 2004 buddy-bonding exercise did seem to be of help in launching that year’s championship campaign but it sounds like there’s bugger all that can be done about it.
That Mayo News story also contains a happy news item, in that it confirms reports that were already doing the rounds on gaaboard.com about Kenneth O’Malley’s return to action. You might recall that the Ballinrobe ‘keeper suffered a horrendous injury in late 2007, one that had not only threatened to put a premature end to his playing career but which also had seriously impaired his quality of life. Well, he’s now back between the sticks for UL and he kept a clean sheet for them as they beat Waterford in last weekend’s McGrath Cup semi-final. This is very welcome news.
Finally, the same Mayo News item (I’m eking the maximum out of this report, I know) casts further doubt on whether or not McHale Park will be used for any of our home NFL fixtures this year. Apparently, the GAA’s Pitches Police were in the county earlier in the week and they took the opportunity to kick the tyres (and, one assumes, the rubble) at McHale Park. It appears that Ballina and Charlestown are in the running for the second home match of the league campaign – against Westmeath on March 8th – but it’s the two glamour home fixtures against the Dubs and All-Ireland champions Tyrone that most focus is on, as only McHale Park would have the capacity to cater for the likely attendances at both of these games. This is a story that’s going to run and run, I think – what odds on a ticket hunt for these games if McHale Park isn’t ready to host them?
I’ve been giving some thought of late to the McHale Park redevelopment, in light of the national economic meltdown and what-not, and it’s a topic I hope to provide my tuppence on in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve got more pressing, i.e. work-related, stuff to deal with.