Ronan McGarritty has capped a remarkable comeback from serious illness last year by being named as Mayo’s captain for 2008. Here’s the story on Hogan Stand, here’s it on the Mayo News and here’s the Indo’s take on it. It’s an excellent decision by Johnno, I think, as Ronan has shown enormous courage and commitment to force his way back to inter-county level after such a serious health scare. I’d say most of us mere mortals would, if faced by such a trial, be thankful we were still living and breathing after it. Johnno has paid tribute to Ronan’s strong character and he reckons he’ll be a strong captain too. I hope he’s right: we certainly need one for the coming year.
In the same article, Johnno also more or less rules out a return by Super Mac, where he says: “Ciaran has a persistent back injury and if it was to continue like it did last year then it would be hard to see him making it back”. I fear we could have seen the last of this prodigious talent in the Green and Red.
Elsewhere in the Indo, Johnno is fuming about the way in which increasing third-level commitments are eating into the inter-county season and at the prospect of collective inter-county training being banned in the months of November and December. (This story is also covered by Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News). This proposal is apparently one the measures supposedly aimed at tackling player burn-out to be voted on at a special Congress later this month (the abolition of the U21 championship is another).
Johnno questions the logic of preventing the majority of counties, who under the new championship structure are idle from mid-July, from training together at precisely the time they need to start doing so, with so many players buggering off to play for the third level colleges (often against their own counties) in January. If these proposals are adopted, then the county team can’t effectively train for the three months prior to the start of the league.
Johnno points out that this is all fine and dandy for those counties who reach the All-Ireland series, in particular the latter end of it, as they could do with the break but that the counties that have been idle for far longer face an even more extended period on the sidelines. After such an absence they probably wouldn’t remember each other’s names.
I agree with The Deputy – this is an ill-considered and stupid proposal but that doesn’t mean it won’t be adopted as official policy at the forthcoming special Congress.
The Mayo News also has loads on last Sunday’s FBD game. In the same article covering Ronan’s captaincy, Johnno puts the defeat down to rustiness and says that he was far happier with the second half performance, in which Mayo rattled over ten points. Demonstrating his competitive streak, The Deputy conceded his disappointment at losing, saying that “if it’s only a game of marbles you’re playing you hate to lose it”. I’d say Johnno would have been a bit of a hard case with the marbles alright. And conkers too, no doubt.
In the same article, The Deputy refutes suggestions about a row between the availability of Ballina’s players in light of their ongoing involvement in the All-Ireland club championship. Sounds like a whole load of nothing to me, I have to say.
Elsewhere in the Mayo News, there’s a longish match report from Sunday and Sean Rice attempts to muscle in on the Predictable Headline competition. He makes the interesting point that Ballaghaderreen’s Stephen Drake, who lined out for NUIG, looked like more of a full-back than BJP did and that it was only after Drake was moved from the position that Austie began to cut loose. We obviously need a new full-back and Drake’s performance on Sunday may well have played himself into contention for the No.3 jersey this year.
That’s it, work to do and all that (and plenty of it).