Johnno has finally named the panel for this year’s championship. For some odd reason, only the Irish Times picked up on the story today, in this premium content report where they provided full details of the panel. For the record, here it is:
MAYO (SF panel): D Clarke, S Nallen; K Conroy, K Higgins, C Boyle, A Higgins, L O’Malley, T Cunniffe, P Kelly, BJ Padden, T Howley, D Heaney, J Nallen; R McGarritty, T Parsons, S O’Shea, B Moran; T Mortimor, A Dillon, P Harte, A Kilcoyne, M Mullins, A O’Malley, C Mortimor, A Moran, M Ronaldson, J Gill, P Gardiner, A Campbell.
The first thing to note is that the above list comprises 29 names, which means that one more will be added at some point shortly. The other point, of course, is that the list doesn’t include Super Mac. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a connection between the two observations – there are 12 forwards named but only 11 backs so the one to be added is likely to be another back (Ger Cafferkey, perhaps?) – and I’m not alone in this, with reports in Setanta and Hogan Stand picking up on the story that we’re unlikely to see the return of the Mac for the Summer. If this is the case, and it does appear to be, then it’s a huge shame. If, however, as some reports suggest, Mac is fit and raring to go, then the decision is completely and utterly barking mad. At 33, Mac may not be a 70-minute man anymore but he’s certainly more than good enough to make his place with ease in a 30-man championship panel. We don’t have anyone else like him and neither have too many other counties so even Mac operating at 50-60% of his full capabilities is more than worth his place on the panel. I sure hope to fuck Johnno knows what he’s doing on this one.
If this really is the end of the road for Super Mac’s inter-county career – which began as far back ago as October 1993, when he came on as a sub for Pat Fallon in a league match against Derry (details here in the Results Archive for that year) – then it’s only right and proper to salute his genius and to recognise the undoubted fact that he is one of those individuals who attained true iconic status playing in the Green and Red. Of all the many other great Mayo players it’s been a privilege for this humble observer to have seen in the flesh, only the great Willie Joe himself had the same ability to electrify the Mayo crowd and, through his mercurial skills, to personify our collective desire to succeed.
Mac had many golden moments in his long career in the colours but, for most of us, his zenith occurred on that day of days against the Dubs in 2006, where, positively exulting in the fearsome responsibility of the moment, he demanded the ball from Kevin O’Neill and then swung that delicious, majestic winning point off his left boot from way, way out on the left straight into the heart of the Hill. As long as I live, I will never, ever forget that jaw-dropping, spine-tingling moment, as Mac wheeled away, shaking his finger, and the reality of the victorious earthquake he had set off began to sink in for all of us. Watch it again and feel those goosebumps rise. Thanks for the memories, Mac.