Brady and O’Neill crocked

The news on David Brady and Kevin O’Neill isn’t great and it looks as if we’ll have to do without both of them for a few matches. Speaking after the game, Johnno told the Western People that DB’s calf injury was “severe enough” and that he’d be out for a few weeks. He confirmed that KoN’s problem is a hamstring and that he’ll also need a few weeks to recover.

It’s almost certain that both will miss the trip to Clones to face Fermanagh on Sunday week and, most likely, we’ll also be without them for the extremely difficult away clash with Cork two weeks after that. They could, I suppose, be back for the Dublin game but fitness will be a problem at that stage. Realistically, we may have to do without them for the remaining four league matches.

DB’s absence is a big blow. Since his (latest) comeback, he’s established himself as a key man for us – in my view, he’s now the first name on the teamsheet. When he’s on the pitch, we don’t get bullied or bossed around the place and his snarling, Alpha Male presence in the middle seems to give heart to everyone around him. Look at the effect he had on the team when he came on against Kerry last September: he arrived at the scene of a car crash but he quickly put manners on Donaghy and, for a brief while, we were back in the game. Last Sunday, our early fluency left us once he went off and a better team than Limerick would have made more productive use of all that primary possession they were winning off McGarritty and Harte in midfield.

These two – especially McGarritty – have a huge responsibility to take on in Brady’s absence in the next few games. If they can’t do this, then we need to start looking elsewhere for midfielders. I’d be hopeful that Harte is up to it but I’m not so sure about Ronan, not least because of his basketball commitments. Don’t get me wrong, Ronan is a talented player but 2006 wasn’t a great year for him and he needs to start providing proof that he deserves a place in the first fifteen. As things stand, I have my doubts.

KoN will also be missed. According to Sean Rice in the Mayo News, his placing on the Forty was a big success last Sunday, resulting in plenty of quick, accurate ball into Campbell and Moran. It’s true that, in his absence, we have lots of different options in the forwards (Mort, Austie, Killer and Conroy could all come in) but we’re still lacking an intelligent playmaker and if KoN was shaping up well to take on this role, it’s a pity that the experiment can’t be continued with over the next few matches.

Elsewhere, Conor Mort is talking about the new regime and Andy Moran is interviewed about Sligo IT, with whom he’s been playing a starring role since the start of the year (which included helping to inflict defeat on Mayo in the FBD League!).

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