According to this report in the Mayo News, we won’t be announcing our team for Sunday’s NFL opener against Derry until “Thursday at the earliest”. It’s all due, it seems, to Conor Mortimer’s snout – the one that Mark Vaughan allegedly broke in two places the other week. The blonde one didn’t line out for DCU in the O’Byrne Cup final last weekend and in that Mayo News piece, Johnno rates him as “extremely doubtful” for Sunday. I’d say there’s little or no chance he’ll start in Ballina but, depending on how the match is going, we could see him come on at some point.
With no team announcement, it’s little surprise to see sensationalist non-story shite like this rushing in to fill the vacuum. But, despair not: for those of us hanging on like junkies outside the methadone clinic for news on the team for Sunday (though it should be pointed out that a Mayo teamsheet would do little to assuage the cravings of your average junkie), Sean Rice’s column in the Mayo News provides a very strong pointer about what the team might look like. The Voice of Experience mentions a challenge game against Cork last weekend (which ended in a draw) and where both counties fielded full-strength teams (and, wonder of wonders, the Cork lads happened not to be on strike at the time). Sean names most of the team in his report and the other Mayo News piece does the rest so, by stitching the two articles together, here (with a few possible positional errors) is what the team for that challenge match was:
David Clarke; Donal Vaughan, Ger Cafferkey, Liam O’Malley; Peadar Gardiner, Tom Cunniffe, Pat Kelly; Ronan McGarritty, Tom Parsons; BJ Padden, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon; Mikey Sweeney, Barry Moran, Andy Moran.
What makes this line-up so relevant in that Sean reckons that “bar one or two positions” it’ll be the team for Sunday. If it is, I’d be happy enough in most respects, what with Ger Cafferkey at full-back, Donal Vaughan in the corner (but why not Colm Cafferkey in the other corner?), Tom Cunniffe in his best position at centre-back and a big man (though not one that answers to Barry Regan) at full-forward. But, before I jump too far ahead of myself, it’s worth bearing in mind the state of Mort’s proboscis and the fact that the definitive line-up won’t be announced till later in the week.
Instead, it’s back to that first Mayo News report I mentioned above where I see that the capacity in James Stephens Park will only be a cosy 4,500. At that rate, it should be a full house or close enough to it next Sunday, just like the Dubs’ match against Tyrone the night before at Croker, as – according to The Brother who was tramping around HQ this afternoon in a vain hunt for tickets for himself and his chisellers – that one is already as good as sold out too.