We’ve had more than our fair share of bad luck with player injuries over the years, in particular inside the last decade. This year, however, the extent to which we’ve been hit with injuries is truly off the scale, so much so that it feels less like outsized misfortunate and more like an outright curse.
I can’t think of another example where a single county has had to cope with such a volume of concurrent injuries. No, wait, I can – we had it bad in 2018 and we had it even worse in 2019. I recall James Horan getting every so slightly tetchy about the issue during the latter year, claiming that “crazy stuff” had been said about whether or not it might be our training methods. That resulted in his “come to training!” moment but, of course, no invitations to training ever ensued.
Our 2019 travails – you’ll recall we lost Diarmuid O’Connor and Matthew Ruane for the bulk of the summer shortly after the League final win – seemed bad at the time but our current injury list is truly eye-watering. So much so that, unless things start to right themselves soon – as in, very soon – it’s hard to see how we can be expected to mount any kind of meaningful challenge this summer.
Adding to supporters’ concerns is the complete absence of any information at all from Mayo GAA about the situation. While the GPA asked players and managers not to take part in match-day interviews as part of its dispute over players’ expenses, the players’ body didn’t, as far as I’m aware, ask County Boards (who, in any event, are part of the GAA, not the GPA, and so are on the other side of the fence in this dispute) to join in too. Despite this, ever since the GPA’s call went out, everyone associated with Mayo GAA, including James Horan, have clammed up completely and have released virtually no public information at all on player injuries.
As many of you know, I have a rule here on the blog about posting unconfirmed rumours about players, the aim of which to ensure that the place doesn’t become a central repository for unsubstantiated stories. But what to do when official sources would provide any substantiation?
For example, after the unfortunate Brendan Harrison (pictured above) was stretchered off Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in obvious distress and seen afterwards on crutches and wearing a leg brace, the best information Mayo GAA could provide, a week on from then, was that the player was “being assessed by Mayo’s medical team.”
That nugget of information was contained in a piece on the outsized injury list by Mike Finnerty in this week’s Mayo News. It’s worth reading that article (paper and digital variants) as Mike is forced to reach again and again for the same adjective – ‘unspecified’ – when reporting on different players’ ailments.
It’s hard to know what purpose this cloak-and-dagger approach serves, aside from creating an extremely fertile ground for all manner of wild rumours. Nature abhors a vaccuum and all that.
In an attempt to get a handle on the magnitude of the injury situation and, in the absence of much in the way of hard facts, I thought it might be helpful to list and set out the position, as I understand it, regarding the twelve players who we know are injured or ill or otherwise unavailable at the present time. Here goes:
- Robbie Hennelly: last played against Kerry in Tralee, having missed the Armagh game when he “over-extended his knee” in the warm-up. Named to start against Tyrone but didn’t appear on the day and hasn’t featured since. Reportedly has had a minor knee procedure but this hasn’t been confirmed nor is there any indication of when he might be back. Prognosis: Doubtful for Galway game?
- David McBrien: last played against Kildare, withdrawn at half-time, possibly due to injury. Wasn’t included in the match day panel for Croke Park. Prognosis: Available for Galway game?
- Brendan Harrison: stretchered off after just two minutes in the game against Kildare with what looked like a serious knee injury. Prognosis: Almost certainly gone for the year.
- Paddy Durcan: last played against Kerry, reportedly nursing a hamstring problem, and hasn’t been included in the 26 since then. An optimistic take on his situation is that we’re wrapping him in cotton wool to make sure he’s okay for the 24th. Here’s hoping. Prognosis: Available for Galway game?
- Oisin Mullin: a late withdrawal from the starting fifteen at Croke Park and wasn’t on the bench either though he was reportedly at HQ on Sunday. Suggestion that his absence was illness-related rather than injury and, if so, he should be good to go against Galway. We’ll need him. Prognosis: Available for Galway game?
- Eoghan McLaughlin: stretchered from St Tiernach’s Park in Round 2 with an ankle injury, he then played a full Sigerson final ten days later (Sigerson and player welfare are clearly not good bed-fellows – see entry on Tommy Conroy below). Then, to add to the insanity, he came on against Dublin three nights after that. Predictably, that was the most recent time he featured and while he was named on the bench for Sunday, he was a late withdrawal on the day. Prognosis: Possibly available for Galway game?
- Jordan Flynn: here’s the new bad news. The Crossmolina man – one of our standout performers from the League – has significant ankle trouble, having fallen awkwardly due to a shoulder charge by Kerry’s Jack Barry right into his chest. If what I’m hearing about this injury is confirmed, it not alone rules him out for Galway but, in all likelihood, for the whole summer. This is a huge blow, both for us and, of course, for Jordan himself. Prognosis: Almost certainly gone for the year.
- Diarmuid O’Connor: withdrawn late in Tralee with what was reportedly hamstring trouble and then didn’t feature against Tyrone. For some unfathomable reason, he was sprung as a late replacement to start against Kildare but didn’t last ’till half-time and signalled himself to come off. Has to be rated touch-and-go for Galway as a result. Prognosis: Doubtful for Galway game?
- Fionn McDonagh: started against Tyrone but went off with what looked visibly like a hamstring pull. Nothing confirmed, of course, and rehab will depend totally on how bad the pull/tear was. Prognosis: Doubtful for Galway game?
- Bryan Walsh: featured in the first three rounds, starting against both Monaghan and Dublin, but hasn’t been on the match day 26 since. No word, good or bad, on his condition, it’s not clear he’s even injured, though you’d have to think he has been. Prognosis: Available for Galway game?
- Tommy Conroy: cruciate injury picked up when fielded for NUIG in a Sigerson game played less than 48 hours after he’d lined out for us in the League. Player welfare, meet my hole. Tommy was far from the only inter-county player risked in this way but he was the unlucky one. Get well soon. Prognosis: Gone for the year.
- Mark Moran: repeatedly name-checked by James Horan – back in the day when the manager would speak with the media – as being “in the frame”, “going well” and “close” but has yet to feature in a match day 26 this year. The Westport man has been plagued by injury since his shooting star inter-county debut, by a funny coincidence against Galway, in late 2020. Prognosis: Available for Galway game?
So, there you have it. More questions than answers but, when the guys who should be providing the answers aren’t minded to do so, that’s not a huge surprise.
In the absence of hard information, all we can say is that we’ve an extremely long long injury list at the present time. All we can do is hope that the lads who are working their way back to fitness will be ready for action again soon and that those facing longer rehabs make a full and complete recovery in due course.