They’re coming through

Photo: @MayoGAA

In the tiny bit of downtime between the Roscommon game last weekend and ahead of getting revved up in the lead-in to the Dubs match on Saturday night, I’ve been doing a bit of research to satisfy my curiosity on a point of interest. Having done so, I can now share it with the wider world.

What I wanted to look at was how quickly the Class of 2006 stepped up to the senior ranks following their victorious U21 All-Ireland campaign and to see how the Class of 2016 are faring out in comparison. It’s very early days yet in relation to the latter group, I know, but my sense – before sitting down to plough through the data – was that this is happening quite rapidly. Having done the research, I can confirm that this is correct.

The first table below shows when the players who featured in the 2006 U21 All-Ireland winning campaign made their appearance for the first time at senior level in the FBD, League and championship.

The next table provides the same information (to date) for the 2016 cohort:

A few points jump out immediately from the above tables.

The first is that the bounty we reaped at senior level from the famed 2006 U21 team was, indeed, a rich one. A total of fourteen players came through to senior from that group and every single one of them played League and championship for us (and FBD, even if it did take Tom Cunniffe until 2013 to make a very belated bow there).

A second, slightly downbeat, point to note in relation to the 2006 group is that the majority of them have already come and gone at senior level. Only six of the fourteen – Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle, Barry Moran and Seamus O’Shea – are still in the frame at senior level now. Of those, only two – Keith and Colm – have played any part for us this year.

A third point to note is that it took a while for all of them to filter through into the senior ranks. Michael Conroy – who made his senior debut at the age of nineteen off the bench on All-Ireland final day in 2004, scoring 1-1 from play that day against Kerry – was the first to appear, with Keith Higgins and Barry Moran both breaking into the senior squad in 2005, all three of them moving up before the U21 title was won in 2006. At the other end of the scale, Chris Barrett, Seamus O’Shea and Enda Varley didn’t see senior championship action for the first time until as late as 2010.

Turning to the Class of 2016, what’s striking is that so many of them are already being progressed through to senior level. As the table above confirms, a total of thirteen of the 2016 All-Ireland winning team – just one fewer than the number who broke through to senior from the 2006 group – have already had a gallop out at senior level.

Sure, for most of them they’ve only seen active service in the FBD. However, eight of them have had some game time already in the League while three of them – Stephen Coen, Conor Loftus and Diarmuid O’Connor – have championship experience, at the highest level to boot, under their belts.

When you consider how long it took for all of the 2006 group to break through into senior and factor in that others from 2016, such as Seamus Cunniffe, Ciaran Harrison, Shairoze Akram and Matthew Ruane, are likely to be knocking on the door as well before too awful long, it could well be that the harvest we’ll reap from last year’s U21 All-Ireland team could in time surpass the bumper crop we enjoyed from the 2006 team. What’s already beyond dispute is that the Class of 2016 are already coming through to senior level in numbers and they’re making their presence felt there as well.

(Note: Post updated to include Morgan Lyons’ appearance at senior level. Table updated too.) 

28 thoughts on “They’re coming through

  1. That’s some research wj. Fair play.
    On the hopes of the next 10 years, I think if this current group could break through and finally land Sam then there would be a lot less pressure on future teams to deliver and they could thrive. As of today, I’m confident that they will deliver Sam, they’re too good not to.

  2. Great work and very interesting information.
    Just wondering what’s the story with Cunniffe? Thought he was an outstanding minor actually reminded me of Ger Caff with his cool head and good reading of the game. Personally thought he would have got at least a run in the FBD considering we have no recognised full back available.

  3. Some good full backs coming through at the younger levels. Cunniffe as aforementioned. Also Cosgrove from Kiltimagh seems very promising with great positional awareness as well as being fearless. What age is he?

  4. That’s some post Willie Joe very well researched fair play to you. It’s comforting and great to know that we have some excellent footballers coming through though in saying that I would stlll like Alan Freeman to be part of the panel we need all hands on deck to get over the line.

  5. Interesting stuff there WJ.

    Did Morgan Lyons play FBD and/or league in 2016 (or 15)? He’s was on the U21 panel, but I seem to remember him playing some role with the seniors.

  6. The big thing with the class of 2016 was they had already won a Minor All Ireland in 2013 and now have 2 All Ireland medals they are used to winning and have a winning mentality no baggage there….Its great to see them coming through form is tempory class is permenant…

  7. Good stuff Willie Joe.
    It looks like we have an abundance of young players coming through.
    Westport and Aghamores local club coaching has given the underage scene a boost.
    Reportedly we ain’t seen nothing yet with Westport. Their U16s demolished everyone last year. Similar Aghamore I think will win a county title within three to four years. The talent is coming through there.

  8. Dublin won the U21 in 2014. Of the team that played that day only two started the All Ireland Final 12 months later, McCaffrey & Fenton. They introduces Small off the bench.

    Only three players, Small, Fenton & Mannion started last years replay. They brought on three more before the conclusion Lowndes, Byrne & Costello.

    This illustrates that these young players cannot be rushed in and expected to dominate at Senior Level immediately. We need to give them time to find their feet.

    Diarmuid O Connor has already cemented his place, If we can get two others who can make the team for this years championship we will be doing very well.

  9. Whats the story on Ciaran Harrison, does anyone know? He didnt play much for Aughmore last year and didnt play yet this year with under 21’s. Your right catcol, Morgan Lyons played FBD a couple of years back.

  10. @catcol yes Morgan Lyons played Fbd league game under Noel and Pat I think.was v Sligo I.T in Ballina.

  11. I’d really love to see our U21 team have a big year again this year. We have never won two underage All-Ireland titles in a row. It is a major ask to do it but we’ll see how it goes. The Kerry team that won the minor title in 2014 was very good. When is our first U21 game this year and who are we playing?

  12. Ger McDonagh played midfield for Mayo minors in 2008 when they lost a replayed final in extra time in Longford. I have bad memories of that town. That team was captained by Shane Nally who was very good- a scoring wing back. Aidan O’Shea, Robbie, K Keane on that team. Also names like Shane MHale, Eoghan O’Reilly were key men. I always thought that there would be more seniors from that team. Alex Corduff was a big lad in full forward line. Also half forwards Aidan Walsh and Cathal Freeman showed promise. Realistically only about 3 or 4 future players can be gained from a successful minor team.

  13. Mayo play the winners of Leitrim – Galway on either Saturday 21st or Wednesday 25th, no time or venue confirmed.
    Our current u21 panel looks strong based on games so far and club football.
    If we get Cunniffe and Harrison back we can tog an experienced strong backline.
    Possibly James Kelly will partner Matthew Ruane at midfield.
    Up front then you have the power and ball winning of Brian Reape and James Carr. Ryan ODonoghue was showing well.

  14. Good spot all re Morgan Lyons. He actually featured in two FBD games in 2015 – I’ll alter the post to reflect this.

    Re Ger McDonagh, the only senior appearance I can see that he has made to date was off the bench against IT Sligo in the 2010 FBD League. I can see from a post I did in May 2010 that while Ger featured in the squad for that year’s League campaign he wasn’t included in the 2010 championship panel. He was in good company because another player was in the same boat in that respect. That player was Lee Keegan.

  15. Thanks for that JP, yes we should have quite a strong U21 team alright this year. That will be a tough opener, against Galway most likely but hopefully we’ll go on another good run again this year.

  16. Does anyone know much about St. Colmans on Saturday. I know they’re missing John Gallagher.
    Any former or current minors involved?

  17. Brian McGuinness – Goalkeeper on panel currently
    David Gannon – Wingback on panel currently
    Stephen McGreal – On Last years and current panel

    Other Key players

    Kenneth Lydon – played Senior Club Champ last year Garrymore
    Paddy Barry – Centre Back
    Cillian Goulding – MF / Wing Forward Famous Football Family

    Two inside Forwards – James Jennings & Evan Ronanyne are speed merchants who can finish.

    They were beaten a point by Attractas in League Final

  18. Thanks Redcol. While on the subject is there a Mayo minor 2017 panel announced or not official yet?

  19. i think there is actually more talent in the 2016 u21team a question now of whether they’re developed and utilised properly. Also, Cian Hanley should be on the CBs/mgt radar if i’m not mistaken he’s on the last year of a 3 yr contract. i hope Cian makes it but if not Mayo need to try to get him onboard

  20. Galway have a very strong u21 team this year. I was at our minor championship win over Galway in Tuam in 2014, we were fairly lucky to win that one. Galway had Michael Daly (now in their senior team; a very good player) sent off. It swing the game our way.

    This game is a very important one for us. Win it and it could really propel this u21 squad forward. Anyone getting ahead of that is in for a right land! I hope Solan has them zoned in for it.

  21. Do you mean more talent in the 2017 u21 team centrefield?
    In terms of skill I think the 2016 minors were the most skillful. However the entire forward line were all well under six foot. By comparison the 2013/14 minors had several forwards comfortably six foot. Once the traditional default minor blanket was unleashed they struggled to win ball and punch holes. But their time will come as footballers. They now have the likes of Reape and Carr who can win ball and help create space for the likes of Ryan ODonoghue or Colm Moran. Jack Reilly will be interesting after a Solan fitness regime. Just a touch more pace and power would make him a great wing forward in my view.

  22. Thanks for the clarification on Ger McDonagh Willie Joe. By my count a total of 18 players from the 2009 U21 panel featured for Mayo seniors in at least the FBD.

  23. Great stuff WJ. The additions of O’Neill and Buckley by JH during his term has I believe extended the footballing careers of many of the U21 squads of the noughties Buckley has been wonderful for us, and particularly these guys in the current squads and I hope he is on the sideline when we take it home sometime in the future..

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