I’ve been away over the last few days and so haven’t been able to post anything about the panel cull that took place on Tuesday night. There has been, I see, some debate in the comments here about who is in and who is out arising from what transpired on Tuesday night so I’ve just had a look at the media reports that have been written on the issue to see if it’s possible to provide some clarity on what’s been going on.
Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News makes clear that the decision taken on Tuesday night was one which was confined to telling a number of players that their services wouldn’t be required for the championship and that no decision was taken then to firm up a definitive panel for the summer. The report on the RTÉ website is more specific in explaining that no decision has yet been taken about who is in the championship squad. Quoting a report in the Irish Daily Mirror, that RTÉ piece says that James Horan said the following:
Before we play London in the championship there are six rounds of club games in a row so we’ll be looking at all those games, at guys playing well. Guys in form will be brought in, guys that aren’t doing it in training will be let go, so it’s pretty simple.
In short, then, Tuesday night would have seemed to involve telling Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Moran, Tom Parsons, Mark Ronaldson and Brian Benson that they wouldn’t be needed for the forthcoming championship campaign. In addition, RTÉ reckons that Trevor Mortimer (who hasn’t been involved with the panel since the Longford débâcle last June) has also been told that he’s not going to be in the panel for the summer.
Further speculation on who else might not feature is, I guess, a bit pointless at this stage. As James Horan says, there’s a raft of county league matches to be played before the London game at the end of next month, giving players the chance to (a) impress or (b) get injured. There’s also the question of what happens when those suffering long-term injuries – in particular Pat Harte and Conor Mortimer – declare themselves fully fit again but I guess this is something that can be considered further down the road.
As regards the quintet (or is it a sextet?) who were told on Tuesday night that they’re not on the panel for the summer, I can’t say that the decision to omit any of them is a surprise. If we want to bring new players through and give them a chance to shine, there have to be casualties and, after last year’s shockingly inept championship campaign, it was clear that major changes were needed. That’s not to saddle all of last year’s failings on the lads dropped earlier this week (far from it, in fact) but it just means that, under the current regime, underperformance has a consequence. That can only be a positive thing.
I’ve always felt that under James Horan we’d get the kind of radical surgery to the squad that Johnno had always blathered on about but never had the balls to undertake properly, preferring instead as he did to bleat on in that querulous manner he had about the side forever being in transition. Under Horan, we’re seeing transition for real and my guess is that when the team takes the field against Galway in late June (sorry, London) there’ll be, at most, seven (eight at a push) survivors from Pearse Park last June and, of that, no more than two or three will line out in the same position as they did that fateful June evening in Longford. Now, that’s what I call a real transition.