The cyber ink had only begun to dry on yesterday’s post when the first bits of gossip about the team began to seep out, courtesy, of course, of the Mayo News. The first noteworthy item in this respect is the surprising revelation in a report by Edwin McGreal that Ciaran Mac could play some part in the proceedings on Sunday. Johnno is quoted as saying that Mac will be given every opportunity to demonstrate his fitness to play on Sunday, including, if necessary, a fitness test on the day. I still don’t think there’s any chance he’ll start the game but Mac has played well against Galway in the recent past and they’d certainly welcome his return to action like they’d welcome a hole in the head. This could well be part of Johnno’s devious plan to soften up the opposition mentally in the lead-in to the game.
In the same article, it’s reported that Liam O’Malley is still struggling with the injury he picked up the other week and it’s beginning to look like he might miss out. If so, Aidan Higgins should fill his place in the corner but it would be cruel luck on Liam who missed most of last year’s championship season through injury and who, on current form, could well be pushing for an All-Star later in the year. Alan Dillon and James Kilcullen are reported to have picked up knocks in training but these don’t seem to be all that serious. Dillon (assuming he is okay) is certain to start but Kilcullen will probably be on the bench.
Kevin McStay seems to think that David Heaney will definitely line out at full-back, with BJ at no.6. It’s probably the most sensible option for this match but I must confess that the sight of Heaney with the no.3 jersey on him again gives me the heebies. If he does okay there on Sunday – which he probably will – the temptation will be to leave him there for the next game and the next and . . . Heaney has plenty to offer further out the field but we simply cannot head back into another All-Ireland series with him at full-back. We’re just asking to get our holes kicked again in the same manner as before.
Because of this, I’d sooner see Kilcullen, Paddy Navin, Liam O’Malley (if he’s fit) or even BJP line out at full-back, with Heaney in midfield or maybe centre-back. The Brother (who, as you might recall, claims some credit for BJ at no.6 and Ger Brady at 14) has long held the view that the man for the job at no.3 is Ronan McGarritty. He could have a point, though I can’t see him being tipped in there coming back from where he’s been over the last few months.
Talking of Heaney, there’s an in-depth interview by Mike Finnerty with him, also in the Mayo News. It’s an odd interview – I can’t understand why he was asked half the questions he was. Such as “Do you ever think what your life will be like without football dominating it?” and “Does it surprise you that nobody seems to talk about Mickey Moran anymore considering the results last year?” Well, Mr Finnerty, if we lose on Sunday, we’ll all get a glimpse of life without football dominating it. And what in the name of jaysus has Mickey Moran got to do with the price of mange-tout in 2007?
In fairness, he does ask our man about playing full-back, which Heaney says straight up that he doesn’t relish. So much so that he nominates James Kilcullen for the job instead. He also reckons that Johnno won’t place him there before hedging his bets by saying that he might. We’re none the wiser, in other words.
Back to Kevin McStay who, as we already knew from Sunday night on De Telly witt Pett, expects Galway to win but, sly fox that he is, he qualifies this by saying he won’t be surprised either if Mayo win. We’re none the wiser there either.
Kev also includes an instructive piece about refereeing and even includes a list of what foul merits what kind of card. So, before you expel your standard Whydontyouputonthefrigginjerseywhileyoureatityoufeckinbollix? the next day, take five minutes beforehand to peruse the list that Kevin provides. I got a few surprises, I have to admit. Such as, if all those offences are to be punished in the prescribed format, how come we don’t end up with five a side every time?
Away from the Mayo News (there’s plenty more stuff there that I haven’t even mentioned), Setanta have some interesting stats on recent championship clashes between Mayo and Galway. We’ve met in each of the last five championship campaigns and they lead 3-2. That a good enough reason, as if we didn’t have any other ones, to sort them out on Sunday. Another little nugget is that all those meetings were either Connacht finals or semi-finals – you have to go back to 1998 to when we last met them in the first round. That, of course, was Johnno’s bow as Galway jefe and we all know what happened then. Well, now he’s back, he’s all ours (bwahahahahahahaha) and my spies tell me that the Galway lads are only planking themselves about Johnno’s intimate knowledge of all their dirty little secrets. I don’t know about you but I’m starting to get a good feeling about Sunday.