We lost this afternoon’s challenge match against Offaly in Ballintubber on a scoreline of 2-12 to 0-15. Leading by 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time, the Faithful hit us with two second half goals and it was the second of these, scored right at the end, that sealed the three-point win for them.
I’ve very little else in the way of detail on the game, I’m afraid, and what I’ve got has come from the ever-reliable Mayo GAA Twitter account as well as a very brief mention of the game on gaaboard.com. For the record, here’s the team that started for us today:
Mayo (SF Challenge v Offaly, 14/5/2011): David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites), Ronan Rochford (Crossmolina), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Cathal Hallinan (Ballintubber); Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe); Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), James Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen); Aidan Campbell (Swinford), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber); Trevor Howley (Knockmore), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Enda Varley (Garrymore).
There would have been a fair few subs introduced over the course of the game as well, I suppose, but I don’t have any details on that front.
I’m loathe to read anything into team selections or, indeed, results from challenge games but the the most noticeable fact to leap out from the above line-out is that Ger Cafferkey played at 3 while Tom Cunniffe replaced him at 6. Tom is, for sure, a more natural half-back than he is a corner man but I hope this experiment doesn’t mean that we’re entering Johnno 2007 territory (think James Kilcullen, think BJP) this close to the start of the championship.
And it’s not just the fear of tinkering I’d have either. Don’t forget that Tom’s one and only outing for us in the championship at centre-back was against Sligo last year and while he was just back from a long lay-off when playing there that day, his sub-standard performance then should make James Horan think long and hard before considering placing him at 6 again in a championship match.
Trevor Howley’s placing at 13 obviously means that he was being given a run-out for the position of seventh defender, where he now appears to be in direct competition with his Knockmore clubmate Kevin McLoughlin. You’d have to think that Trevor could do alright in such a role but the fact that we shipped 2-12 to a team like Offaly does kinda hint that all wasn’t well in the defence this afternoon, seven backs or no seven backs.
The other point of note from today’s game is that despite fielding a forward line missing only Andy Moran and Jason Doherty from the sextet we can expect to see starting in the championship, we only managed to post a total of fifteen points. No Jason, so no goals is the obvious (perhaps too obvious) observation here but, despite the Goal Machine’s absence, you’d still expect a forward line like today’s to put up a more respectable tally than the one they managed.
But it was only a challenge and I don’t know how seriously we took it, in particular how much chopping and changing we did on the day. If anyone was at the match today and would care to provide their thoughts on it, any info you have would be greatly appreciated.