It’s still over six weeks until the seniors make their first appearance in this year’s championship but the county Junior team are in action tomorrow evening (Wednesday) when they face Sligo in the Connacht semi-final. The clash against the Yeats County takes place at James Stephens Park, Ballina, where throw-in is 7.30pm and details of the team and subs named for this match are as follows:
Mayo (Connacht JFC semi-final v Sligo, 6/5/2015): Blake Forkan (Kiltimagh); Pat Barrett (Belmullet), Brendan Moran (Cill Chomain), Barry Leonard (Lahardane); Eoin O’Donoghue (Belmullet), Darren McHugh (Hollymount/Carramore), Mickey Barrett (Knockmore); Mícheál Forde (Ballycastle), Peter Collins (Islandeady); Gavin Conway (Ballaghaderreen), Cathal Freeman (Aghamore, captain),Padraic Feerick (Hollymount/Carramore); Damien McGing (Ballintubber), Andrew Farrell (Killala), Darragh Joyce (Islandeady). Subs: Matthew Flanagan (Balla), Brendan Carr (Ardagh), Neil O’Sullivan (Shrule/Glencorrib), Stephen Grealis (Achill), Conor Horan (Swinford), Darren Durcan (Parke), Kevin Newell (Ballina Stephenites), Brian Reape (Bohola Moy Davitts), Sean Gaughan (Belmullet).
The side named features a few well-known players, including three who have seen game time with the seniors. Aghamore’s Cathal Freeman, who captains the side at centre-forward, started two League matches for the county back in 2013, before suffering a series of injuries. Mícheál Forde from Ballycastle, meanwhile, is on the senior panel this year and was on the starting fifteen for the match against Derry up in Celtic Park in March. Hollymount/Carramore’s Darren McHugh was also on the senior panel for a while this year, featuring in two FBD matches. Injury curtailed his involvement after that, in fact I thought he was still injured.
Tomorrow evening’s match is set to be a tough one. Sligo are the reigning Connacht champions and they’re the dominant force within the province at this level – they’ve won four out of the last five Connacht JFC titles and are bidding to complete a provincial three-in-a-row this year.
The Magpies’ cause is undoubtedly helped by the preferential rules that apply to ‘weaker’ counties at Junior level. Any player who lined out at senior club championship level in Mayo last year isn’t eligible to play for the Juniors this year whereas in Sligo the only ineligible players are those who played senior inter-county championship football last year.
Them’s the rules, though, so Sean McLoughlin’s charges just have to get on with it, which I’m sure they will. Best of luck to them tomorrow evening.