Pretty full waiting room this morning, by the looks of it (well, that’s according to the Indo anyway). Let’s start from the back, shall we?
Goalkeeper David Clarke is doubtful due to what is described as a back-related hamstring injury which he sustained at some point during the Galway match. Clarkie didn’t have much to do against Galway, apart from kicking the ball out (with varying degrees of success, you’d have to say, his long kicks going wildly astray but his short ones in the second half being much better) but he obviously did something to bugger up his back-related hamstring. With first-choice keeper Kenneth O’Malley still on the sidelines, we may now be forced to field the spendidly-named Morvin Connolly from Garrymore against Donegal on Sunday. Morvin is 23 (I don’t recall that one being in the top ten names for boys and girls in 1984 but, truth be told, I don’t recall an awful lot about 1984 at this stage except that Galway beat us in the Connacht final in Salthill: aarrgghh!) and he’s has never played for the county at any level before but he may get a memorable debut in the cauldron that is an empty Croke Park on Sunday.
Who’s next? James Kilcullen, apparently, clutching his groin. He’d be a big loss but then Donegal are sweating on their man Brendan Devenney so we could agree some kind of pairing arrangement (like the one TDs agree on when they want to go on the piss together or whatever) or, alternatively, agree to play the match with fourteen players on each side. Failing that, Liam O’Malley will probably have to move across to full-back with Aidan Higgins or Trevor Howley coming into the corner. Please, please, not Heaney: been there, done that, got the holes kicked off us. Twice.
Kevin O’Neill’s problem is reported to be calf-related and was obviously serious enough for him to have to go off the last day. The captain is proving a bit injury-prone, I have to say, having missed half the league campaign already due to a hamstring injury. With O’Neill out, Andy Moran is likely to be named at centre-forward again, with either Michael Conroy or Aidan Campbell getting a starting berth. With Campbell also playing the day before for the U21s, Conroy is more likely to start but Campbell looks the business more than Conroy does and is sure to come on at some stage.
Setanta reports that David Brady has also been ruled out of Sunday’s match, also with a calf problem. That was what he originally had back at the end of February and it’s a bit worrying that it’s felled him again. It’s not a big problem for Sunday – we can just soldier on with Heaney and Harte – but if there’s one man we need in Salthill to kick some ass, it’s DB.
The one bit of good news, from the same Setanta story, is Tommy Jordan’s insistence that Ciaran MacDonald could yet feature for club and county at some point over the Summer. Bearing in mind what Kevin McStay said in his Mayo News column this week – i.e. that Mayo have plenty of good, solid committed players but none of the top-drawer variety – it’s certainly the case that a fit and committed Mac would be an enormous addition to the squad. I hope Mac does make it back at some point but I wouldn’t bet on it happening all the same.
That’s it, surgery closed for now. It looks like it could be Saturday before the team is announced for this one which doesn’t exactly augur well for our chances of winning it. Liam Mulvihill was right when he said at the outset of the NFL campaign that this was, unlike most sporting competitions, one that tends to begin with a bang but ends with a whimper. We’re certainly whimpering a bit at the minute and in no humour to do any banging.