I know I’m a bit late coming to this one but it’s a quiet time – with a week and a half still to go before the Monaghan match – so maybe it’s worth giving it a brief mention all the same. The Mayo News (paper and digital edition) has a bit this week about that challenge match against Clare at the weekend – the one that got plenty of coverage in the comments here on the site a few days earlier – and the piece also provides a handy summary of player availability at the minute, which is the bit I want to mention.
Four lads who haven’t seen action so far in the League for us got a run-out against Clare. Jason Gibbons – who featured in all three of our FBD matches – returned to the fray at the weekend following recovery from an ankle problem. Jason hasn’t had a great time of it with injuries over the last while, suffering ligament trouble last year which undoubtedly affected his prep for the championship after a stellar League campaign for us. Tom Cunniffe also featured on Saturday, making his first appearance for the county since last year’s All-Ireland semi-final replay. It’d be great to see both Tom and Jason back in the thick of the action against Monaghan on Sunday week.
Conor O’Shea and Danny Kirby also made their first appearances of the year in the Clare match. Conor broke his ankle last autumn and at the weekend he was featuring in a Mayo jersey for the first time since making his championship debut for the county in last year’s Connacht semi-final against Roscommon. Danny, meanwhile, was back in the colours for the first ever time since bagging four goals against NUIG in the FBD League just over three years ago.
That near-incredible stat was only topped by the first ever senior county appearance the last day from Gavin Duffy, who finally made his county debut lining out alongside fellow Ballina man Alex Corduff at midfield. Alex featured for us in this year’s FBD League, as did Neil Douglas who also played the last day.
Two players that the Mayo News confirms are currently sidelined are Chris Barrett and Richie Feeney. The unfortunate Belmullet man, who had a real tough time of it with his knee last year, has had to have another operation, this time on his ankle. According to Pat Holmes, this latest problem will keep him out for “five to six weeks” which means he’ll miss most of what’s left of the League campaign. Richie, meanwhile, is nursing damaged ribs at the minute.
There’s some good news, though, concerning Tom Parsons and Andy Moran, neither of whom have yet lined out for the county this year, as both are likely to be available for selection for the Monaghan match. This then means that, Chris Barrett aside, we’re pretty much at full strength going into this one and so it’ll certainly be interesting – as well as fairly instructive – to see what Noel and Pat’s pick will be for this crunch encounter.
Finally, I know there are names swirling round in the context of the panel being cut over the last few days. As others have said (and thanks for doing so) there’s simply no point posting details here until there’s official confirmation on this. The lads involved deserve this courtesy and respect.