Heaney and Killer in, Parsons and Mort out for Saturday

The starting line-up for Saturday’s Connacht semi-final with Roscommon at McHale Park (throw-in 5 pm) has just been announced.  Here it is:

Mayo (Connacht SFC v Roscommon, 20/6/2009): Kenneth O’Malley; Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Andy Moran; David Heaney, Ronan McGarritty; Pat Harte, Trevor Mortimer (captain), Alan Dillon; Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Moran, Aidan O’Shea.

There are no surprises about the bulk of that fifteen, with Johnno maintaining the broad shape of the side that started in New York last month.  There are still four changes from the team that started that match, however, with injuries ruling out David Clarke and (possibly) Tom Parsons as well.  Kevin McLoughlin and Donal Vaughan – two of this year’s U21s who also featured prominently during the league campaign – both drop to the bench but one of them could well end up starting the game if Liam O’Malley (who, somewhat surprisingly, is named in his usual corner-back spot) isn’t fit enough to play.  The decision to field Keith Higgins, who despite his long absence from the team is still one of our top players, in place of McLoughlin at left corner is tough on the young Knockmore man (especially if he loses out to Vaughan for the other corner-back position should Liam O’Malley not start) but it’s a simple case of Johnno opting for the more experienced man.

The same can also be said of David Heaney’s return to the fray.  His inclusion in the first fifteen isn’t a huge surprise but the fact that he lines out at midfield – which was also, by the way, his last championship starting position for us (against Tyrone last August) – is what’s interesting.  Tom Parsons was one of the players that the Indo said today was struggling to be fit for the game but it’s also the case that the Charlestown man hasn’t been in top form at any point this year.  Midfield is a sector where we’re undoubtedly struggling a bit – we could easily, I fear, find ourselves labouring there on Saturday too – and obviously Heaney’s big-match experience (in a spot that’s, thankfully, well away from our own posts too) sees him included at the expense of this year’s U21 captain.  We’ll need a big performance there from the Swinford man if we’re to keep the Rossies in check.

The half-back and half-forward lines more or less picked themselves (but what, then, was the point of shifting Andy Moran round the place for those recent challenge games, not to mention his move back to corner-forward for the New York match?) and so the other main talking point comes in the full-forward line where Aidan Kilcoyne gets the nod over Conor Mortimer to start alongside our own version of the Twin Towers.  Killer mixed the good with the not-so-good in recent challenge matches – he was great, apparently, against Westmeath but not so hot in the match I went to against Dublin – and Johnno will, no doubt, be hoping that the Knockmore man shows the same form on Saturday as he did in Connacht last year.  In that respect, another goal like this one wouldn’t go amiss the next day.  Conor has been in and out of the team for months now and is only returning to fitness following his recent hand injury and so his omission from Saturday’s line-up hasn’t the kind of seismic effect it might otherwise have had.  It goes without saying that he’ll be a good man to have on the blue seats in case he’s needed on Saturday and, if called upon, you can be sure he’ll want to make his mark on the scoreboard.

Overall, then, it’s in many ways a typical Johnno team-sheet, in that experimentation has been minimised but a few major calls have nonetheless been made.  We don’t have long to wait now to see how this particular championship line-up fares out.

12 thoughts on “Heaney and Killer in, Parsons and Mort out for Saturday

  1. 6 changes in our backs from last years Connaught final
    Some are enforced but it is good to see Higgins back in an inexperienced full back line.
    Parsons has been poor in the league & deserves to be dropped
    I imagine Kilcoyne is in for the free taking
    It will be interesting to see how our 2 big lads work in the full forward line—they are both good footballers.

  2. Thanks WJ. Delighted to see Keith in. Half back line looks watery enough but mid field is most worrying. Heaney was at sea against the dubs in the challenge and only looked comfortable when moved to the half backs. I would have put heaney in the HB line, stuck Barry moran and MF and stuck BJ in the corner. Kind of happy to see killer in the corner…certainly not there based on his performance against the dubs or indeed any other game i have seen him involved in this year…now is his big chance and what a bonus it would be to us if he turned it on this summer. Of course there might be some switches….Heany could start in the HB line, Andy Moran could start at corner forward and Barry at MF….heres hoping Johnno has a few tricks up his sleeves cos i dont like the layout of the team as listed

  3. totally agree wj,heaney is not a mid fielder or a full back,center back is where he belongs, as much as he will let you down when yoy expet something of him i think killer deserves his chance, why even pat harte is not in the middle and bj at 10…. is johnno out to prove that mayo can win without the mort,people are complaining he is too greedy surely that is what we want from our forwards,all the years off complaining when mayo forwards passed the ball to death

  4. Some big surprises there. It will be interesting to see how it works out!
    Dying for a championship throw in, roll on Saturday!

  5. WJ – it worries me that Kenneth O’Malley, Keith Higgins, Trevor Howley, David Heaney, Barry Moran and Aidan Kilcoyne have played no real competitive football this year – 6/15! I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt us

  6. Cheers WJ.
    Any idea on the subs? Did Parsons or BJ make it?

    I think we will need a big performance from McGarrity this Saturday. He needs to field a lot of ball for Heaney and Harte to pick up. We’re due a good performance from him, he’s been poor enough of late. If he had any real competition for his place, he’d be lucky to be starting.

    I have no worries at all about Higgins starting, he’d be sharp enough fitness wise after those games with the hurlers.

  7. There’s no word on the subs, Dan – I think we need to wait for the programme (and any match-day announcements) for that kind of detail.

    That 6/15 stat is a bit of a worry alright, but most of those are, one way or another, enforced, in that they’re coming back from injuries themselves or taking over from players who are injured (or both, in the case of Trevor Howley!). It’s a concern, though, for sure.

  8. Well in fairness to O Mahony his stated aim taking over the team was (A) to lower expectations amongst the Mayo supporters(B) re-build the team. (A) has been a resounding success (B) is still a work in progress. 12 of the starting line up have been on either Maughans or Morans panels of 2004/06. Kenneth O Malley ’07 and Aiden O shea plus Cafferky are the sum total of three years building. Parsons and Cunniffe last seasons additions have slipped back. Campell has been jettisoned. So to Saturday. Looking into the crystal ball we will see Kilcoyne taken off early. Andy (Paul Madeley) Moran will move up the field to replace Kilcoyne. Nallen or McGloughlin/Vaughan will come in at half back to replace him. After that we will see Heaney or McGarrity go off .Harte or Barry Moran will be moved into mid. Then Conor will come on. I loved the piece from Johnno in the Mayo news re Mayo leaders. He mentioned Heaney, Nallen and McDonald. Johnno took the captaincy off Heaney, giving it to O Neill. He then made McGarrity the captain(a man struggling to hold his place).The best was McDonald . OMahoney barely used him. I suppose I am writing my death warrent in this piece but I honestly see nothing for us under this managment team. That been said, if I am wrong then sorry, and I wont trouble this board again.

  9. I completely agree with you ontheroad … I am not convinced at all , and I too can almost foresee those changes mentioned above, nearly three years into the second coming and Im seeing no major re-development…. I too hope Im wrong ..

  10. I don’t know! Maybe it’s old age. But in my comment last week I stated that I expected 12 out of the positions to be filled as they were. The three that are different are:

    – K Higgins. He’s an accomplished back. A bit loose for corner back but has been here before. I have a niggling feeling about him being very similar to Killian Young of Kerry – and he had an unhappy experience in the corner last Sunday. But then, another long serving half back – Anthony Lynch – showed us that you can move back. Verdict? – no complaints.

    – D Heaney. We need an enforcer at centre field. Is he better in this role than Tom Parsons? On current form, I would have to say that he probably is, and with Harte tracking back to pick up loose ball, this just might work. Verdict? – best option available at present.

    – Killer. Here’s a really interesting one. I think that he will be deployed behind the two big fellas – having Harte in a deep role would facilitate this. This will create the opportunity to allow him to snap up loose ball and pick off scores. Also, Conor can come storming out of the traps at half time like he did against Galway. Verdict? could really open up the scoring opportunities.

    Overall Verdict? I think this could work! Anyway, we will know soon enough. Bring it on!

    Keep the Faith!

  11. ah come on fourgoal,yor real name ofcourse.Keith Higgins is a very tight defender,the only man who can hold m. meehan,my opinion probably in the top 6 defenders in ireland

  12. Hi 1951. I’m not saying that Keith is not a good back. Quite the opposite in fact, I think he is a huge asset to our side. It’s just that a half back has a different job to a corner back.

    A corner back has to stick like glue to his man as the first priority, while providing cover for the full back and clearing any ball won out to the half back line.

    A half back needs to cover breaks from centre field, pick up loose ball behind the centrefield area, make raiding runs into the opposition half, be available for a pass out of the full back line AND try to keep his man out of the game. When Keith picked up Meehan last year, the bould Meehan might have had No14 on his back and he certainly was not playing a traditional corner forward role. He was actually playing in roving role that took him out to the half back line (and beyond) a fair bit and Keith was the ideal player to pick him up as a result.

    If a half back is an extremely tight marker first – and everything else second – there are some half back duties that will not be attended to. And that is the reason that Keith is such a good half back – he has an impressive range of all-round skills. So assuming that a top class half back will automatically make a top class corner back is not necessarily correct. Killian Young showed that last Sunday. I would also argue that Anthony Lynch’s time in the Cork half back line was dominated by his ability to shut his man down at the expense of his other half back duties. Consequently, putting him on Gooch was a master stroke as it allowed him to concentrate on the strongest part of his game.

    And in relation to the name, the ould fella wanted to call me Sixteenwides. Thankfully the ould lady was a more positive thinker!

    Keep the Faith!

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