Johnno risks U21s but keeps Mort on the bench

I’m a bit off the pace at the minute, I have to confess, what with friends being over from London with their four small kids in tow which, when mixed with our three Dubeens, has resulted in a whole pile of kiddie chaos. Little wonder then that there’s been a significant volume of alcohol consumed Chez WJ after the sun’s gone down the last few nights which has meant that I haven’t seen as much of my laptop as I normally would. So it’s Good Friday, I have a bit of a hangover and I’ve just gone online to discover that the teams have already been announced for Sunday.

We’ve made two changes to the starting line-up from the Galway game, with Kevin McLoughlin coming in for Ciaran Conroy at the back and BJP coming in at corner-forward (which, I think, is yet another new position for him). This means that Conor is benched again and although this time I’m not going to bother getting all arsey about it, I do hope that Johnno knows what he’s doing in terms of how he’s handling our top scorer of the 21st century. I can’t see the logic of this decision but as I’ve said, I’m not going to repeat the rant I had about it the last time. All that red wine and cava has mellowed me, I think.

The second major talking point is that he’s decided to risk two of the really key lads on the U21 team, by starting both Kevin McLoughlin and Aidan O’Shea. While I accept that they’re both top lads and deserve to be in the team on current form, I cannot see why both of them are being risked in a match like this when they’ll both be lining out just six days later in the U21 All-Ireland semi-final. Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle and Ciaran Conroy are all named in the subs and, of course, David Heaney, James Nallen and Aidan Higgins are all back in the panel as well so I can’t see why Kevin McLoughlin – who has had injury problems already this year – needs to be risked for this one. Likewise, Barry Moran is fit and available for selection at full-forward and he could certainly do with some game time. I wonder what the Holmes/Connelly/Collins axis think of all this: I suspect they could do with some red wine and cava to mellow them too.

Here’s the team (details of which I got from Club Mayo Dublin) in full:

MAYO (NFL Division 1 v Tyrone, 12/4/2009): David Clarke; Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Kevin McLoughlin; Peadar Gardiner, Tom Cunniffe, Andy Moran; Pat Harte, Ronan McGarritty; Mark Ronaldson, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon; Austin O’Malley, Aidan O’Shea, Billy Joe Padden. Subs: Kenneth O’Malley, Colm Boyle, Ciaran Conroy, Chris Barrett, Tom Parsons, Conor Mortimer, Barry Moran, Barry Kelly.

Tyrone, meanwhile, have made seven changes to their line-up. This article in the Indo (which also covers Galway’s selection for their match with Kerry) provides all the detail of who comes in where. Here’s the starting fifteen:

TYRONE (NFL Division 1 v Mayo, 12/4/2009): J Devine; PJ Quinn, C Gormley, D Carlin; D Harte, R McMenamin, P Jordan; K Hughes, E McGinley; J McMahon, B McGuigan, R Mellon; N Gormley, S Cavanagh, O Mulligan.

The major talking point in relation to the Red Hand team is that it features the return to action of that ball-grabbing loon at centre-back. Mind you, Ricey will need to mind his manners at McHale Park as I don’t think that it’d all that advisable for him to start playing with Trev’s testicles.

Right, I think I need to lie down for a while now.

14 thoughts on “Johnno risks U21s but keeps Mort on the bench

  1. Playing devils advocate here ( the money’s no good but the work is fun) but are you suggesting that the top scorer should be immune from the normal selection decisions and should have his place as a right? For all I know Johnno may think Mort the Younger may be getting complacent- yes he is the top scorer, but that is not getting the job done for Mayo in terms of putting pots on the sideboard…

  2. Not too concerned at the lessning of our dependence on Conor, it might actually make him a better team player when he returns. In the meantime its up to others to step up to the plate and spread the load. Enjoyed your piece of 50 years V Tyrone. Funnily enough our honours list is pretty equal as well. Both counties have won 3 Senior All-Irelands, 4 U21s, and 6 Minor apiece. The key difference is Tyrone have won the bulk of their titles in the three competitions since 1991. Time to stop their gallop and for us to surge ahead in any one of the above honours list. By the way, remember the iconoc photo of Ricy and him with his head quite close to young Conor during last years qualifiers? What if our man let fly with a right hook, perhaps we might have been galvanised and Ricey might have been spared a long suspension this year. Sometimes its o.k to stand your ground and make a point if you follow my drift. Conor turned the other cheek. Less of the nice guy stuff just might do us no harm.

  3. I’m not saying that at all, innocentbystander, and maybe the reason you give is why Johnno has left him off the team again. He hasn’t had a great league but I’m not sure he’s done sufficiently poorly to be dropped. It is, of course, true that – as you point out, ontheroad – that we need to lessen our dependence on Conor and, if this exercise helps to do that then there might be some sense to it. It just strikes me as an odd way to do things and, given the way he mishandled relations with our other high-profile blond, I’d just be a bit nervous about where this all might lead (though maybe that’s my hangover causing me to be a little paranoid).

    That’s interesting about Tyrone’s All-Ireland record compared to our’s: if we can bag the U21 in the next few weeks we’ll be ahead of them again! I remember saying to a few Tyrone people coming out of Croke Park last September that they were now as good as us with their three All-Irelands but I think they were too stunned after the match to comprehend what I was saying.

  4. I just dont get it. is JOM trying to wind up noel pat & mick ?? O’shea & mcloughlin who should be at home biting the heads off choclate bunnies will be in the teeth of a tyrone gale on sunday this will be no walk in the park Tyrone desperate for points will take no prisoners this is high risk not clever we have a good chance of a serious crack at u 21 honours this year and JOM is doing this with two of the top players very confused here….

  5. WJ, just a reminder that all Club Mayo-Dublin members get in free on Sunday once they show their valid membership card.

    Hopefully the lads can maintain their Division 1 status!

  6. Seems crazy alright, can’t believe JOM has picked any of the U21’s. I just can’t see the logic. We have plenty of options for McLoughlin at the back especially.

    Picking O’Shea is worse still. We’re forgetting just how young he is. He’s a pivotal player for the U21’s and now it seems is expected to play senior continually.
    I wasn’t even sure if he’d be in the senior panel this year, it seems now he’s our first choice full forward. People who have questioned his temperment will know a lot more after his encounter with those Tyrone backs…

    My only assumption with all this (and I’m clutching at big fecking straws here) is that the U21 management agreed to this and maybe even wanted to keep the lads sharp.
    6 days is long enough to recover, but is it really worth the risk of injury??

  7. A simple question. Who are the current U21 champions? Did you have to stop to think about it? Did you watch last years final?
    How important is the competition in the greater scheme of things.

    Dont get me wrong. I am not trying to belittle the competition or any of the lads who have won all ireland medals at the grade, but inside the next 4 or 5 years it will be consigned to the scrapheap along with the railway cup.

    I think we can learn more about Mc Loughlin & O Shea from playing senior against Tyrone than we can watching them play u21.

    I understand WJ and others concerns about keeping them fit for the semi-final, but if we are being serious about playing the youngsters in the championship then this is the last chance we have to see them playing against quality senior opposition.

    A Cork man once told me { i would swap 3 hurling titles for 1 football title} In my case i would swap 10 u21 titles for 1 senior.

  8. That’s a fair enough point, Fidel, but personally I wouldn’t dismiss the U21 grade in that way. The brand of football you get at U21 is usually very good to watch, with far less of the cynical stuff that you get at senior level, and it does provide a good lead-in to players coming through to the senior ranks. It would, I think, be a pity if it were to be scrapped but it has already been targeted and i’d agree that there’s a real danger it will be sacrificed on the burn-out altar at some point.

    Kerry are the current champions, BTW – we gifted them last year’s semi-final and they then hammered Kildare in the final.

  9. Can’t agree with you Fidel, and I’m sure a lot of the U21 lads wouldn’t either. An All-Ireland at any grade is never to be dismissed. The more our lads win the better, that winning mentality can then be taken forward into the senior grade. We need to breed winning teams from an early age. Just look at Tyrones success at underage over the past 10 years.

    But that aside, the main point here is that this league game is all but a dead rubber for our lads (barring a freak set of results). I might understand if we were fighting for our lives in a relegation sense, or going for one of the top 2 places.

  10. 30 Min’s of senior football against Tyrone now! might stand to them come summer. After tomorrow fixture congestion shouldn’t be a problem,quite the opisite.(i.e.long gaps between games). The veteran’s should cope alright on there own in new york. It could benefit O’Shea and co to play at both levels from tomorrow onwards, with the exception of N Y, if only to let a few more of the older lads kick there heels one last time in the big apple

  11. O’Shea will be doing the Leaving Cert this year and might miss the New York game as a result. Maybe Johnno wants to give him the Tyrone experience to prepare him for later in the Summer. I have no problem playing young fellas at senior but young O’Shea is getting a huge amount of football for someone coming up to the Leaving Cert. I’m not sure if this is fair on the lad – to say nothing of the U21 situation.

    Keep the Faith!

  12. know I’m a bit late in returning to this, but I would argue putting resources in at U21 level might be more beneficial than minor in terms of reaping rewards- it’s less of a gap to senior for one, and you lose fewer lads to soccer, drink, etc. etc, etc.
    Would be interesting to see over the last 15 years if there is any correlation between U21 and senior success and whether it is stronger than the correlation between minor and senior success.
    One for the statisticians…

  13. That’s a good point, innocentbystander, and one I might place in the ‘To Do’ folder for the winter. I’m planning of incorporating minor and U21 results/teams into the results archive at some point (not as far back as the senior records – maybe the last ten years or so) and so it should be fairly easily to do this kind of analysis once the records are all to hand.

  14. Just a brief note re corelations.A rough trawl does back up the theory of U21 success leading to senior success. It certainly has worked for the senior sides of Cork 1988-93, Kerry 1996-onwards, Tyrone 1995 plus 2003-2008, Mayo 1989 and 1996-1999. I recall all of those teams U21 sides of a couple of years previous doing the business.

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