So much for the behind-closed-doors policy: after all the pre-match hush about last night’s challenge match against Kildare, which we now know was played in Longwood and featured three 25-minute playing periods, the media is now only swimming with match reports about it. My thanks to the lads on here who broke the story first this morning, giving us this Kildare-oriented take on proceedings. Then, later on, came this short report in the Mayo News and by early evening the Herald and Hogan Stand had joined in the fun. At this rate, there’ll probably be a full colour two-page spread on it in tomorrow’s Irish Times. I mean, it’s not as if there’s much rugby to talk about this weather or anything.
Given that it was only (yet another) challenge match, there’s little that can be read into the outcome. The line-up is obviously the bit of most interest and this provides further proof that most of the key decisions have been made at this stage in relation to the backs, while the situation with regard to the forwards remains a bit more fluid. That Mayo News report says that Aidan Kilcoyne (who is now definitely ruled out for the Sligo game) was joined on the sidelines last night by Trevor Howley and Barry Moran. Trevor was taken off for Knockmore last weekend complaining about a tight hamstring but I don’t know what the story is with Barry. He can’t be fucking injured again so soon after coming back, can he? Sadly, I think we all know the answer to that.
On the plus side, both Donal Vaughan and Alan Dillon returned to the fray last night and both appear to be fit and raring to go. It looks like it’s between Donie and Peadar Gardiner for the no.5 shirt and, if that’s the case, you’d have to think that the Ballinrobe man’s sparkling league form should be enough for him to be given the nod there. Seniority is all good and well but this isn’t the Civil Service we’re talking about here and so it’s hard to see how, on recent form, Peadar could be preferred to Donie.
Alan is, of course, a certain starter in the forwards but it’s far too late in the evening to start any kind of guessing game about what six will start and in what position. All I’ll say is that Alan definitely shouldn’t start at 11 – the league final showed yet again the futility of placing him there. Seamus O’Shea was back on the forty last night and with Tom Parsons continuing to get game time at midfield alongside Ronan, this could well be how that bit of the team will line out in Markievicz Park.