Squad reduction not nice but is necessary ahead of summer

Many aspects to the job of Mayo manager are, I’m sure, rather nice. Reducing the playing panel ahead of Championship isn’t one them.

The Connaught Telegraph reported yesterday (here) that a number of the spring panel, six in all, have been told that they’re not going to be involved for the summer. The six named in this context are Jason Gibbons, Conor O’Shea, Colm Moran, Cathal Horan, James Kelly and Ryan O’Donoghue.

It’s not easy for James Horan and his selectors to tell lads who have slogged through the winter and spring that they’re not required for the summer. It sure isn’t easy on the players to receive this unwelcome news either.

The bulk of them are, though, young men for whom further opportunities to play at this level will arise in the future, in some cases maybe sooner rather than later. The experience they’ll have got from being involved in the panel for such a positive League campaign will stand to them and make them better players, ones with the capability to come back into the reckoning stronger in the future.

I’d feel especially for Jason Gibbons – who featured for us off the bench in an All-Ireland final as long ago as 2012 – who is being omitted from the panel ahead of summer for the second successive year. Jason has been utterly luckless down the years with injuries, which have always seemed to occur just at the point where he was set to establish himself within the team.

Conor O’Shea has also been around for a while – he made his Championship debut as a substitute over in New York in 2014, the same day that current captain Diarmuid O’Connor did. Like Jason, Conor made it onto the pitch for us in an All-Ireland final – he replaced the injured Donal Vaughan in the 2016 replay – and he also scored the second goal for us that broke Tipperary’s resistance in that year’s semi-final.

Back at the start of this year when Rob and I chatted with Ciaran Murphy of Second Captains for the Mayo News football podcast League preview episode (here), I recall making the point that come summer we’d see a number of changes in key playing personnel within the team. I said then that it was impossible to speculate either about who’d be coming in or who was most likely to be dropping out but that change was, for sure, on the horizon in 2019.

Change has indeed come. It has done so by giving lads the opportunity to shine and by seeing who has been best able to grasp it. Some have done better than expected, others less so. A few well-established performers have seen their positions come under threat, others have shored up their places.

All this experimentation has been necessary. Now, eight hard League matches – and the trophy – later, and with the New York game facing us just over two weeks away, it’s time for James and his selectors to decide – based on what they’ve seen at close quarters in training and matches over the last number of months – on the lads they want to go into battle with over the coming months.

The squad reduction that results from this decision-making isn’t a pleasant process. But it’s a necessary step on the way to being ready for the Championship and it’s right that it’s being done sooner rather than later, well before the first shots are fired in what we all hope will be a long and productive summer campaign for us.

51 thoughts on “Squad reduction not nice but is necessary ahead of summer

  1. Well said Willie Joe! It’s never nice reading the names of those who don’t make the cut but for some of them they will have other opportunities.
    By the way, I think it’s just over two weeks away, not three.

  2. I think it can be a little bit easier to accept been told you are no longer in the reckoning if the competition for places is absolutely savage which in this case it is. You take comfort in the knowledge that in most other counties you’re place would be guaranteed. This is Mayo however.. we’ve just gone and won the league on the back of a mix of experience and raw talent.. we are building for the future.. we are evolving and no one knows where this story will end and there is an air of excitement and anticipation. Everyone wants to be part of this story but we can only take the very very best based on the evidence before our eyes right now. These things always sting but deep down these guys will want only the very best for the squad and county and to create the best chance of success now and in the future.

  3. Tough calls. I’m sure training gives insights that we do not see but surprised that Jason let go with our strength in depth at midfield so fragile, in truth if we wanted to deploy Aidan somewhere else we have only Ruane as an out-and-out midfielder, This scenario cost us dearly last year.Gibbons in probably the best club player in Mayo in the last half a dozen years and when his confidence is right, a top class mobile, intelligent county player. Of course there are a good few more hard calls to make yet, a testimony to Horan’s expansion policy.

  4. Yes, the midfield situation is interesting. No Jason, Conor also a possible midfielder, Barry retired.

    There’s Seamie of course, and Donie, Diarmuid, Stevie Coen can all chip in, but it has only been since Aido reverted and Matty (an out and out midfielder) came along that midfield has gone from being a liability to an asset.

    Tom Parsons, your county needs you – so badly!

  5. I’m not, James – as I’ve said previously, the football Feile is on here in Dublin that weekend and my son’s team are involved so I’m staying put for that.

  6. Was anyone at the Knockmore v Ardagh game earlier? Would be interested to hear how James Carr got on…

  7. @mayodunphy
    Ryan o Donoghue is overage for U20 this year should still be able to play for Mayo Juniors, same with Cathal Horan and James Kelly. Liam Irwin didn’t play championship in Mayo last year so should be eligible for the Junior team as well.

  8. Oisin Mullins was tremendous for Kilmaine this evening. Adam Barrett played well also.
    Both involved with our u20s.

  9. There are 8 Corofin players now in Kevin Walsh’s Galway Senior panel with the latest Martin Farragher been drafted in along with his brother Michael Farragher, Dylan Wall, Ian Burke, Kieran Molloy, Liam Silke, Bernard Power and Jason Leonard.Barry McHugh from Mountbellew has been dropped and it’s looking like Galway talisaman Damo Comer will miss the entire Connacht championship after surgery on his ankle in March so Gary O’Donnell now takes the captaincy , while Peter Cooke and Ciaran Duggan have picked up injuries in recent weeks and will miss the opening games v London and Sligo.

  10. Who actually cares what Galway are doing?. Not taking away from your post TH, thats good intel! But I personally couldn’t give a fuck whos in or out aslong as we beat them.

  11. Who cares about Galway?? They have beating us 3 years in a f***ing row.I think its the only thing on JH’s mind now is June 16th in Pearse Stadium it’s the match that will define our season after the NY and Ross games are out of the way.

  12. I’d focus on NY and the Rossies for now chaps. The rest is a problem for another day.

    Hopefully we get a decent runout in Gaelic Park and do not repeat the near cardiac arrest in London at the start of James’ last tenure! We won’t but it’s worth recalling.

    A lot of squads are managing a few injuries to key players are we’re no different. Tough at this time of the year to get them sufficient game time.

  13. If we want to win a Connacht title then Galway will have to be beat. I think news on their panel is relevant to the blog.

  14. @JP
    Watched the kilmaine myself, Oisin Mullin looks back to his best after injury, great prospect, he and Adam Barrett still eligible again next year. Kilmaine have a good young team. Very impressed with Oisin and Thomas Fahey bombing forward from the half back line. Michael Hession and Jarlaith Mullin two good inside forwards. Mathew Keady in midfield was a Mayo minor in 2015 and was a midfield partner with Celin Darcy Darcy in their school days. Adam leady looked useful in goals Feel they should be at the business end of the season.
    Mayo U20s have some good competition for places for the next 2 years Mullen Aaron O Donnell Ballinrobe and Aaron McHale Parke now impressing the last couple of weeks. Seeing a lot of young players being giving a chance in the championship the last couple of weeks can only be good for their development. Good to see young players like keith Joyce back after long term injury. List of U20s that started so far in the championship, a few regular starters where absent like Joe Dawson Seán Keane for Louisburgh and Tom Reynolds Balla Kane Phillips Ballaghaderreen.Dylan Prendergast playing Rugby for Ballina Luke McNicholas playing in goals for Sligo Rovers

    GK Jamie McNicolas Kiltimagh U19
    GK Jason Corrigan Louisburgh U19
    GK Cian Naughton Davitts U19

    RFB Matt Dervan Breaffy
    RFB Oran o Malley Ballinrobe
    RFB Leo Howard Belmullet U19

    FB Conor Beirne Breaffy
    FB Keiran King Knockmore
    FB David Gannon Claremorris
    FB Basil McLeod Louisburgh U19

    LFB Aaron McHale Parke U19
    LFB Jack Coyne Ballyhaunis U19
    LFB David McBrien Ballaghaderreen U19
    LFB Liam Donoghue Kiltane U18
    LFB Conor Dunleavy Balla U18

    RHB Mikey Conroy Kiltane U19
    RHB Brian o Halloran The Neale U19
    RHB Conor Brogan Knockmore
    RHB David Cunnane Ballyhaunis

    CB Aaron o Donnell Ballinrobe U19
    CB Aaron Moran Parke U19

    LHB Nathan Moran Hollymount
    LHB Oisin Mullin Kilmaine U19
    LHB Dimitri Trench Davits U19
    LHB Bradley Hughes Garrymore U19
    LHB Keiran Conroy Belmullet

    MF Evan o Brien Ballinrobe
    MF Liam Burke Ballinrobe U19
    MF Fionan Ryan Belmullet U18
    MF Paddy Goldrick Charlestown U19
    MF Zac Feerick The Neale U18

    RHF Ciaran Gavin Ballintubber U19
    RHF Ronan Reilly Parke U19
    RHF Paul Towey Charlestown U19
    RHF Aidan Orme Knockmore
    RHF Aaron Murphy Lahardane
    RHF David Naylor Ardnaree

    CHF Cathal Slattery Garrymore
    CHF Gavin Durcan Castlebar
    CHF Matthew Lenehan Charlestown
    CHF Adam Barrett Kilmaine U19
    CHF Fergal Sweeney The Neale U18

    LHF Adam Carrabine Kiltane
    LHF Stephen McGreal Claremorris
    LHF Stephen Jackson Ardnaree
    LHF Jack McLoughlin Parke U19

    RCF John Gallagher Mayo Gaels
    RCF Aaron Walsh Balla

    FF Michael Keane Belmullet
    FF Kuba Callaghan Ballaghaderreen U19
    FF Jack Ronayne Davitts

    LCF Tommy Conroy The Neale
    LCF Fintan McManamon Burrishoole
    LCF Pat Harte Balla
    LCF Brian Walsh Castlebar U19
    LCF Jack Doorcey Parke

    Used subs
    Eoghan McLaughlin Westport
    Mark Moran Westport U19
    Pat Lambert Westport U19
    Cillian Golding Balla U19
    James Jennings Mayo Gaels U19
    Jamie Finnerty Ballintubber
    Ryan Casey Knockmore
    Ben Murphy Breaffy
    Tomas Morris Hollymount U19
    Jack Mahon Charlestown U18
    Liam og Horkan Garrymore U18
    Justin Cummins Garrymore U19
    Keith Joyce Kilmeena “back after injury”

    Ends Hession Garrymore U18
    Ethan Ivers Belmullet U18
    Rory Brickenden Westport U19
    Like Tunney Westport U19
    Lorcan Towey Moy Davitts U19
    Conor Hunt Aghamore
    Jack Higgins Aghamore U19
    Cormac Phillips Ballyhaunis U19
    Conor McGuinesss Claremorris U19
    Brian McGuinness Claremorris

  15. Thanks for that Mayomessi. Serious research.
    I think next year’s u20s will be the most impressive team we’ve togged at u21 or u20.
    John Gallagher is still u19, he’s u20 next year.
    When you figure next year has the power of Macleod, Brickendon, Mullins, Rowley, Horkan, Ryan, Callaghan, Mark Moran, Gavin, Golding and Barrett.
    Then the footballing skill of Pat Lambert and Enda Hession.
    This year’s u20 team it’s hard to pick the best six forwards. Looking at Adam Barrett yesterday he can be at a serious level next with a bit more strength. He had a score yesterday where he did a kinda double shimmy and floated the ball over from 35 yards. He took 10 shots and scored 10 times. Only messed up one pass. He had a moment in the second half, collected the ball, looked to his left but bounce soloed behind himself to his right. The entire pitch stepped left whilst he went right.

  16. Scoring 0-10 at any level is impressive, needs to fill out more but the talent is there. A lot of competition for forward spots. Westport has some serious young talent coming thru their B team will be a tough opposition for anyone. Sometimes it’s easier for young lads at intermediate and junior clubs makes it more impressive to see U20 players playing for senior clubs in key positions. Might have missed a few like Michael McGarry Eastern Gaels also a tidy forward.

  17. Keep an eye on the minors this year for Ballina players quay school!
    Dylan Prendergast will probably be the Irish U20 outhalf next year and a full Connacht professional the following year. Having watched him for Ballina RFC all this season, if he keeps developing as quick as he is he will be an full Irish international before long!!

  18. Cód, wide ball.
    Yes no County players playing for their clubs in this the month for club football. We probably won’t see any of them again in their club colours until Mayo are out of the championship.

  19. Is the junior championship the next 4 weeks in a row? Seriously good talent coming up in the county by the sounds of it

  20. Lots and lots of talent coming up throughout the county Sean Walsh and cian Gallagher from kiltimagh are too too watch out on aswell

  21. Liam Og Horkan is a great prospect saw him playing for Coleman’s on a day a lot of his colleagues didn’t perform at their best.If we have 3 better keepers than Mc Guinness from Claremorris we ate in a very strong position he won an U21 club last year and played very well Saturday against Breaffy very brave came out on top of Irwin a few times and cleared his line Breaffy got a goal at the end but it was a defender that was at fault.

  22. Thanks for that Mayomessi. One Micheal Keane impressed me one day, hope he can continue to develop. I agree with you that Kilmaine had a few nice players but we could have said that about them last year and to a lesser extent the year before. Will they realise their potential this year, remains to be seen. They will breakout some season.

  23. Anyone ever see Aidan Orme of Knockmore play he hit 7 points 6 of them from play the weekend and was man of the match v Hollymount in the League Saturday.Anyone know what age he Is?

  24. Aidan Orme is in Mayomessi’ list above, listed as an U20.
    That’s impressive scoring.

  25. On another note, this “April for the clubs” craic has proven to be absolute cotswallop yet again. No county players togging for the clubs on April 20/21 and same again this weekend, and them not going on what is essentially a working vacation in New York for another month. Sad state of affairs when you can count on your hands the amount of times a county player features for his club in a season.

  26. Oisin McG
    With that being said Ben Doyle and Oisin McLaughlin played the weekend for Westport along with Colm Moran so most likely all three were released?
    Aidan Orme is U20 and has been a starter for Knockmore for the past two season. Knockmore had three U20 starting at the weekend Keiran King at fullback Ryan Casey at midfield and Orme on the half forward line.

  27. Great to see such interest and knowledge of our club matches. Kilmaine really do look like having a huge amount of young talent. Mullins (x2), Fahys, Barrett, Keady and Hession. Yet they lost last year in the championship when, on paper, they were a far better team. Attacking talent no doubt but they need to develop a strong defensive core. Something they never lacked in the past.

  28. We know who have been released, do we know who’s still in? We tried well over 30 players in league and maybe a few more in FBD. One thing for sure there’s competition in FF and HF lines now. Boland and McDonagh very close to sidelining either Jason or Cillian. Also Carr and Treacy may have jumped ahead of Reape, Diskin, Evan and Andy might only be impact sub this year. Cillian not guaranteed his place depending on how long it takes intercounty fitness to return. Presume Tom P not in the frame just yet. Also is SOS still out with injury or is he in the named panel? Did I hear Tom P was back running 3 or 4 weeks back? How much training have these guys miss? Maybe they’re still doing plenty of S&C.

  29. “Boland and McDonagh very close to sidelining Jason”, seriously Shuffly Deck, are you having a laugh? Alongside AOS, he’s being our most consistent performer in the league.

  30. Stephen, add to that Cillian, Boland and McDonagh have done well but a fit Cillian is a definite starter no question. How can anyone seriously think Cillian OConnor, one of the top forwards in the country, will be sitting on the bench when the championship starts. It’s great to see a host of young players coming on the scene but they are not at Cillians level yet.

  31. I see the Mayo News confirming the Connaught story, but also adding a bit about the development panel and who is on it:


    “It is believed that the development panel currently includes the following players: Westport young duo Ben Doyle and Oisin McLaughlin, Shairoze Akram from Ballaghaderreen, goalkeeper Micheál Schlingermann from Kiltimagh and Mikey Murray from Ballina”.

  32. Hi, Mikey Murray called into Panel. Tom Parsons expected to play later in Championship. This is from James Horan speaking at plan for new Winter Pitch under Dome at Bekan. This is expected to open on Dec 2.

  33. Thanks to the posters here with so much knowledge on underage and u20 squad. What’s the yard stick being used to gauge their talent? A concern being that despite all this talent, none of these lads have managed to beat Galway at minor in recent years. That must change. And soon.

  34. @Mayonaze, a lot of recently namechecked u20 players were either injured at u17 2017 or u18 2017 or are u19s who never had an u18 age group in 2018.
    I don’t pass much heed on minor. Galway have played a blanket every year. The blanket is more effective at minor as the younger players don’t have much kicking range beyond 35 yards.
    I think the most important stat in national underage is how many clubs compete in a county’s u21 club championship of all possible clubs. Mayo has 52 clubs and I made it 42 clubs (some amalgamations) competed in the A, B and C championships. It means that we have a wide pick of developing clubs for young players.
    The 2019 Mayo u21 should be very well contested at all grades A, B and C.
    Other counties have young players interest filleted by 20/21.

  35. Mayonaze I agree with your sentiments.
    JP I bow to your superior knowledge on the underage players but blanket systems or not we haven’t beaten the Galway teams at several levels not just minor. Players are name checked here and are regularly being built up to be so good I think we are getting carried away a bit. There in no real evidence to prove that what we are producing is any better that what some other counties have coming through.Galway have produced a lot of young talent over the last few years and many of them are now incorporated already into the senior squad. You would have to be worried that our results to date against them would indicate that our coaching and systems is somewhat behind what they have.

  36. Shuffly having a laugh… no I’m not having a laugh (re new players getting on) and here’s the logic. Cillian is a super player and with massive experience BUT championship fitness is a very high level of fitness indeed. He’s no doubt ramping it up fast but playing catch up. I can see him being at that pitch come July or August but don’t expect a start against new York or maybe even Rossies. No doubt he will feature for some of the game by then and probably NY too but starting I wouldn’t be so sure.
    Regards Jason, he’s currently our designated free taker and definitely plays if Cillian doesn’t start. McDonagh for me is more likely to be free scoring because of his pace than Jason and although Jason is more physical and will get more turnovers, McDonagh tracks well and puts decent pressure on the man so not so far behind in defense where he will improve and possibly ahead in attack. Also being left footed means considerably easier to score from his strong side.
    Regarding Boland he’s definitely better than 2 years ago, a real heads up player, as well as a runner and passer. Similar to Kevin Mc & scores freely enough from play. Teams need free scoring forwards. Boland also has a knack of ghosting inside which is a very useful trait.
    Also in league final, Carr was explosive for about 10 mins after half time with no prior Senior experience. Like a young Cillian who made a fool of Paul Galvin in 2011 for a great left footed goal and was unreal in 2013 before late season injury dampened him a bit. Great aga as a marquee forward in 2014. Cillian has been doing plenty of great things since but not as free scoring with the goals as his younger self. Sacrifices some of his game to help the team defending as a leader from the front.

  37. …..Carr kicked a super point off his left in the recent final like as if it was his good foot. Most intercounty forwards have a deliberate kicking style off their weak foot whereas Carr’s looks 100% natural, doesn’t need to think about it. If we get to Connaught final Cillian may be too important to leave on the bench but by then others might be absolutely flying and very hard to bench.

  38. If Cillian is back to full fitness and gets a good run out against New York I would like to see him tried at CHF and not no 14. Like everyone else I have watched back the league final multiple times and I love the inside line of McLoughlin, Coen and Carr. I have been really impressed with Coen in the two games I watched him in the flesh against Monaghan and Kerry and think he deserves his shot in the championship.
    I think Cillian has the smarts and physicality and natural football in him to be a great no 11.
    The competition is fierce in the forwards when you have Andy, Carr, Kevin Mac, Coen, Reape, Diskin, Regan all jostling for the full forward line and Boland, McDonagh, Doherty, Diarmuid, Cillian, and Treacy fighting for the half forward berths with Jason Doc and Cillian able to move into the full forward line if you want and Kevin Mac able to come out and play the forty if needed and there is always Keith to throw in at wing forward if you really want to throw in a tactical grenade for the like of Walsh/Harte/Keane/Gavin!!!
    Not forgetting the backs I think Stephen Coen and Ger Caff give us our horses for courses type man markers and O’Donoghue and Boyler give us real aggressive live wire options to start or come off the bench. Michael Plunkett gives us a holding center back should the game dictate it that we have been missing for a while now so the competition in the backs is as cut throat as ever! Midfield looks the most settled but if one of Seami or Tom P can give us 20 mins off the bench we are in fine fettle there too but that is the only slight concern I have at the moment but even that hole can be plugged by Diarmuid or Donie or at a push Keegan.
    Roll on the Connacht championship!

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