James Horan’s very welcome press event earlier on today was, by the sounds of it, a guarded enough affair. What the manager had to say was, perhaps understandably, vague enough, including where it came to player availability and injuries.
He’ll surely have liked the coverage he got, though, on the topic, with the line that only Michael Plunkett is definitely out of the Monaghan game getting a fair bit of traction, including on Midwest. With Paddy Durcan apparently back to full fitness and Oisín Mullin having also returned to training, while Robbie Hennelly played some part in the recent challenge match against Cavan, there is at least some optimism that the injury crisis is starting to ease.
At the same time, however, major worries remain about Ryan O’Donoghue, Mayo’s outstanding performer so far this year. While James spoke about “bangs and bruises” when asked about the Belmullet player, it remains far from certain if the Belmullet clubman will be okay to play on Saturday week.
When you factor in the long-term absences of Tommy Conroy, Brendan Harrison, Jordan Flynn and now Michael Plunkett, as well as the fact that two other long-term absentees, Cillian O’Connor and Jason Doherty, are back only a short time and are both likely to be some way from full fitness, the picture about injuries within the panel takes on a less rosier hue.
On the plus side, as Mike Finnerty reported in this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital variants), Fionn McDonagh appears to have recovered from the hamstring pull he suffered in the Tyrone game and so should be available for selection the next day. This, however, is a player who has endured no end of injury problems since breaking through so impressively in 2019.
In more negative news, that same piece confirmed that Bryan Walsh – a regular last year who started in the All-Ireland final against Tyrone and featured in the first three rounds of this year’s League campaign – remains sidelined and is unlikely to feature again any time soon.
Another positive from today’s press event was confirmation from the manager that no-one has left the panel since the Galway game.
Overall, then, it remains very much a mixed bag for us on the injury front as we face into what is a huge knockout Championship fixture on 4th June. The return of key players to full fitness is, of course, a big boost but it is the case nonetheless that we’ll be taking on Monaghan with less than a full-strength team. Just how much we are below full strength for the game is a question to which there’s as yet no clear answer, nor is there likely to be ahead of Saturday week.
Today’s press event with James Horan is covered in a special bonus Mayo Football Podcast episode now available to club members on Patreon. To listen to this and gain access to other great content, join the club here.