I had only just hit the ‘Publish’ button on the previous post when I saw that we have now, a bit earlier than expected, announced our line-up for the Dublin game on Sunday. Here are full details of the team and subs:
Mayo (NFL Division One v Dublin, 20/3/2011): Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis); Richie Feeney (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore); Ronan McGarrity (Ballina Stephenites), James Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen); Aidan Campbell (Swinford), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen); Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole). Subs: David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites), Peadar Gardiner (Crossmolina), Cathal Hallinan (Ballintubber), James Burke (Ballymun Kickhams, Dublin), Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), Tom Parsons (Charlestown), Aidan Kilcoyne (Knockmore), Enda Varley (Garrymore), Neil Douglas (Castlebar Mitchels), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Eoghan Reilly (Castlebar Mitchels).
That’s seven changes from the side that started against Armagh last weekend, with Robbie Hennelly, Keith Higgins, Richie Feeney, Ronan McGarrity, James Kilcullen, Aidan O’Shea and Alan Freeman coming in, while Kenneth O’Malley, Cathal Hallinan, Peadar Gardiner, Ruaidhri O’Connor, Tom Parsons, Jason Gibbons and Aidan Kilcoyne all lose out. There are also a number of positional switches from the starting team the last day, the net result of which is that only Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Aidan Campbell, Alan Dillon and Jason Doherty will have the same numbers on their jerseys that they had the last day.
While there are good reasons for many of the changes being made for Sunday, it means that, as has been the case for every other game so far this year, there’s absolutely no continuity from one day to the next. I can understand why the likes of Gardiner, Parsons, Gibbons and Kilcoyne haven’t made the cut this time (given that none of them by all accounts did that well the last day) but this logic surely doesn’t apply in the cases of Cathal Hallinan and Ruaidhri O’Connor. Hallinan (or Alan Feeney – is he injured by the way?) is a potential championship full-back for us while Chris Barrett (who stands at 5’9” or thereabouts) most definitely isn’t. So why name Barrett there when the Ballintubber man could gain valuable experience in the position at HQ on Sunday? Likewise, why reward O’Connor for repeatedly good showings with a place on the bench in the next game? It makes no sense to me, I have to say.
A more welcome development is James Kilcullen’s return to midfield, where he’ll provide a bit of heft (though maybe not too much in the way of pace) while Keith Higgins should add a bit of stability at the back (he’ll have the legs on Mossy at any rate). Alan Freeman’s return in the forwards will also add some potency there and, given his and Jason Doherty’s keen eye for goal, Pat Gilroy may yet end up regretting his decision to rest Stephen Cluxton for this one.