Less than three weeks to go now until our championship opener against London over in Ruislip and you get the sense that the metaphorical rubber is starting to hit the proverbial road.
The painful task of finalising the squad for the summer has been done and Cillian’s been appointed captain. A bunch of the victorious U21 squad are on board and, aside from a few knocks and bumps, we’ve no significant injuries worries or absences as we head into the summer campaign. Not wishing to tempt fate or anything but I can’t honestly remember when we last faced into the championship with such a fair wind in our sails.
The Mayo News reports today (paper and digital versions) that Stephen Rochford and his selectors have finalised a squad comprising 33 players for the summer. This is the list that the paper has:
Goalkeepers (2): David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites), Robbie Hennelly (Breaffy).
Backs (14): Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Colm Boyle (Davitts), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Caolan Crowe (Garrymore), David Drake (Ballaghaderreen), Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Michael Hall (Breaffy), Brendan Harrison (Aghamore), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Kevin Keane (Westport), Lee Keegan (Westport), Shane Nally (Garrymore), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe).
Midfielders (4): Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), Barry Moran (Castlebar Mitchels), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Tom Parsons (Charlestown Sarsfields).
Forwards (13): Cathal Carolan (Crossmolina), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Conor Loftus (Crossmolina), Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Andy Moran (Ballghaderreen), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber, captain), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Conor O’Shea (Breaffy), Brian Reape (Moy Davitts), Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites).
As far as I know the four complete newbies on the list are Caolan Crowe, Michael Hall, Shane Nally and Brian Reape. Cathal Carolan and Evan Regan didn’t feature last summer due to injury and Jason Gibbons was also injured late in the League campaign last year and wasn’t included in the panel thereafter. I can’t remember if Conor O’Shea was in the squad last summer. Conor Loftus was but from what I recall didn’t feature in the match-day panels.
Best of luck to the lot of them. A fine bunch of lads they are and I’ve no doubt they’ll represent us with distinction in this year’s championship.
Talking about distinguished service, our all-conquering U21s are commemorated in this week’s Mayo News in the form of a glossy poster (which looks like this). Between that and the first half of the top 40 club rankings, not to mention previews on this coming weekend’s club championship action and plenty more besides, the paper is definitely worth getting hold of this week.