Harte in for Galway match

pat-harte_.jpgThe team for Sunday’s league match with Galway has been announced (once again, it’s only fair to acknowledge the fact that the Mayo GAA website is first out of the traps with the news). As expected, Johnno keeps faith with the players who secured the win over Kildare and so the only change to the starting line-up is an enforced one. Pat Harte replaced the injured Trevor Mortimor in the first half at Newbridge and he keeps the left half-forward position for Sunday. Here’s the team:

David Clarke; Tom Cunniffe, Kieran Conroy, Colm Boyle; David Heaney, Trevor Howley, Keith Higgins; Ronan McGarritty, Tom Parsons; James Gill, Alan Dillon, Pat Harte; Conor Mortimor, Austin O’Malley, Andy Moran.

No surprises there, I suppose. Pat did well when he came in the last day and so it would have been a bigger surprise had he not been given the nod to start on Sunday in place of the unfortunate Trevor Mortimor. Apart from that, there were no other changes to the team that were screaming to be made and I guess the sixty-four thousand dollar question is whether or not there will be any (many?) by full-time on Sunday.

8 thoughts on “Harte in for Galway match

  1. Groundhog Day with the Herrin Chokers

    So we’re back to the Herrin Chokers again. But they are certainly a different outfit than what we had to contend with over the past few years. Yes, many of the faces are the same but the football is of a better style these days. For years, Galway have been looked at in terms of that U21 team that were scoring goals for the hell of it a few years ago, but they couldn’t seem to deliver on the promise. Now, with a strong mid field and six versatile forwards, they are back to scoring for fun. This is the way it should be. Galway is a proud footballing county and they should be up there with the top teams on a regular basis.

    And that gives us even more pleasure beating them!

    It’s interesting to follow the debate about which of our buckos should play where and the views are very mixed. Like everyone else who doesn’t have to tog out next Sunday, I too have a view and I agree with the way Johnno has selected the team for Sunday.

    Clarke is now the clear No 1 between the posts. No contest there. Our backs are steadily improving. OK, young Cunniffe wasn’t up to Doyle last Sunday, but he did well when moved. Conroy was quite, but then so was every man Kildare tried at full-forward. Johnno was reluctant after the Kerry game to say we had found our No 3, saying one swallow didn’t make a Summer. But after the Kildare game, we now have two swallows, the clocks have gone forward and the weather is better. The case for the imminent appearance of Summer is strengthened and I for one think we have found a really good prospect for full back. Colm Boyle had a great game and he took up a man-marking task, mostly on Finnan, but it was sometimes a bit hard to follow who he was on, as Kildare kept changing the forwards around. Keith Higgins was brilliant last Sunday – back to the form that gave him young player of the year in 2006. He has learned to man-mark as well.

    Howley continues to grow into the No 6 role and Heaney was solid. The only thing about Heaney is that he inclined to be drawn into fouling and he can kick the odd haymaker of a wide. But he can also take resonsibility and that is necessary in the heat of battle. However, of all of the backs who lined out the last day, he is the one that I would be most concerned about with Galway. Age is against him, the Galway lads are very mobile and they rotate a lot during the match. In fact, Galway now has the type of forward set up that Johnno was trying to build with our lads last year. That type of system relies on a strong centrefield that will release quick ball into the half forward line. The strong centre field was the bit of the puzzle missing for us last year with Ronan out and Brady injured. This year, with Kevin O’Neill gone and MacD missing in action, we are missing the type of forwards Johnno would have needed to continue this strategy.

    Which brings me back to centre field. I have always said that we need a ball winner and an enforcer in that area. We are more than half way there. Ronan is getting back to his 2006 form and there are prospects in O’Shea and Parsons for the wingman role. Up front, Harte is an ideal linkman between centrefield and the forwards. He certainly tidied things up when he came on the last day. Dillon is blowing hot and cold at present but on a good day he is brilliant. On the other wing, James Gill is a hard worker, but I expect that, as the year develops that position will be taken up by someone who is prepared to track back and help the defence. Don’t rule out a return for Billy Joe in this position, but someone with the strength of T Mort is what is really needed there. If in doubt, ask Kerry!

    Mort the Younger is a key man, as always. Your recent piece on him proved all that needed to be proven. Austie is a man reborn, But I’d like to see him stay closer to goal and getting into the habit of rattling the net a bit more. Part of his outfield role is to create space in the front line – and it worked wonderfully for Moran’s goal on Sunday. But high balls into lads like Mort and Moran will not have a high percentage return. It might be better if Austie stayed in a bit more and let Andy go out. After all Andy is a good man to run at a defence – he showed that several times last year and his best example of doing this was against the Dubs in 2006 which ended up with the ball in the back of Cluxton’s net.

    As a work in progress, the team has come on a long way in a year. You can really see now that the distraction of the election was significant. Just hope, for the sake of Mayo football, that Brian Cowen does not take Enda Kenny seriously and go for a new mandate when Bertie hands over.

    That is the last thing we would need in the long run up to the Championship.

    And as for calling it for Sunday? If we can crowd centre field (using Harte) and prevent quick supply to their forwards, while at the same time man marking their forwards and playing Austie closer to goal?

    A Mayo win by 3 points. Sort of Groundhog Day with a different result.

    Keep the Faith!

  2. Hi FourGoal

    Good to hear from you: I was wondering where you’d got to!

    Spot on, as usual, with your analysis – I especially like the bit about Brian Cowen. Doesn’t Enda remember what happened in Salthill last year?

    I’m really looking forward to next Sunday’s clash. With Ford gone, Galway seem to be playing football again and I think Sunday’s match is likely to be a dress rehearsal for the Connacht final. Despite our improved showing against Kildare, there are still plenty of question marks about our backline and Galway have the kind of forwards who are well capable of asking the hard questions.

    It’s a hard one to call (we’re slight favourites – 10/11 – with the bookies) and it could be that a draw (13/2) might be the best option on offer.

    All the best

    WJ

  3. Yeah, I was following the crack but staying out of the fun. A bit like watching a match really – I suppose if you get used to doing the watching, it’s as much fun as joining in. Some commentors seem to hold really strong views. I was thinking that if the players that they are defending could show the same tenacity in marking their men, we would have the best full back line in the country!

    In relation to Sunday, this is a big test for Sammon. Last year, under what many Galway people will see as a weaker manager, they beat out the gate. Now, under one of their own gurus, they could be run much closer. Remember, they have already lost against Donegal and they certainly dont want to lose this.

    I think this could be a really significant game, because it could put down a marker that we have improved by more than Galway in a year and that would be significant in the run up to the Championship. I haven’t looked forward to a league match so much in years.

    Keep the Faith!

  4. Glad you enjoyed the fun. It felt like I’d stirred up a right old hornet’s nest there for a while!

    I agree about Sunday’s match – there’s a hell of a lot more riding out than the two league points on offer. It’s definitely one that’s worth the mileage (from here in Dublin) getting to.

  5. Were you guys first with the news last night? I didn’t check your site before the official one, I have to confess.

    Keep up the good work on the site, BTW, I think it looks great and thanks for the plug you gave to the blog.

    All the best

    WJ

  6. Thank WJ.

    Not sure if we were first as the info has to come from the County PRO, but we won’t be far behind.

  7. Yeah, they’re the ultimate source so they’ll always have it first but I’ll keep an eye out on your site all the same.

    By the way, where are those fleeces? Sounds we might need them, and the longjohns, on Sunday!

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