Tough decisions made on summer squad

Mark Ronaldson Mickey C 2006

Photo: Mayo News (Ray Ryan)

It’s been signposted for a few weeks but this morning word has at last begun to emerge about the make-up on the squad for this year’s senior football championship. As has already been signalled in the comments, Colm Keys has a piece in today’s Irish Independent (here) naming a number of players whom Stephen Rochford has released from the squad for the summer campaign.

In light of the large number of players who have been given game time so far this year, it was obvious that the squad headcount needed to be cut back ahead of the championship. The need to do this, allied to the desirability of bringing in a number of the All-Ireland winning U21s, some of whom had already played a significant part in this year’s League campaign, made it inevitable that a number of lads who’d been in the panel for some time would not be featuring this summer.

Most of the focus, understandably, will be on Michael Conroy whose senior inter-county career goes all the way back to 2004 when, still a teenager, he bagged 1-1 in that year’s All-Ireland final. On the scene from then until 2007 he was brought back into the fold by James Horan but has been dogged by repeated injuries in recent years. He featured regularly in last year’s League but then saw no championship action and was out injured for all of this year’s League campaign.

The downside of Castlebar’s long club campaign is seen in the decision to retain just Barry Moran and Paddy Durcan within the county set-up for the summer. It’s tough on players like Neil Douglas and Danny Kirby, both of whom looked like they might well break into the match-day ranks this year, but were left with little or no time to impress once the Mitchels’ run to Croke Park was over.

Looking through all of the names mentioned in that Indo piece – Mark Ronaldson, Shane McHale and Mikey Sweeney are also on the list, as well as the Mitchels’ trio Eoghan O’Reilly, Donie Newcombe and Ger McDonagh – it’s hard not to be sad for all of them. Timing can so often be crucial for players as to whether or not they blossom at inter-county level but opportunities and injuries can’t be planned for or predicted and it’s these factors that can often decide the trajectory of a player’s career.

This process can’t have been easy either on Stephen Rochford and his selectors either and undoubtedly a number of hard, close calls have had to be made in recent days. That’s part of the job of management, though, and Stephen and his colleagues are obviously the ones best placed to make these tough decisions.

Commiserations to all of the lads who came out the wrong side of this week’s squad cuts and thanks too to them for all the hard work and commitment they’ve given to the cause, in most cases over a number of years.

90 thoughts on “Tough decisions made on summer squad

  1. Well according to rte radio and the morning Ireland show its none other than Mickey Cooney thats been dropped! wouldn’t be te first time they mucked up on a Mayo football story – Dopes!

  2. Ouch. It’s hard to know how these fellas could be feeling now. They’ve put in huge effort over the years and made a huge contribution, no doubting that. I don’t envy anyone involved in these situations.
    Still, part of me feels Kirby could have offered something in a certain type of formation or set up.

  3. Tough on all of those missing out, but especially the “older” lads like Conroy, Ronaldson and Sweeney. You’d imagine this might the end of their inter county careers.
    Best of luck to all of them.

    Some of the younger lads like Kirby and McHale still have time to fight their way back in to the panel. Boyler showed that your inter-county career is never over if you’re young enough and driven enough.

    It’s hard, but these calls had to be made. We need to think about the future and bringing through some of our outstanding U21 team.

    Despite what some say about the age of our team, our age profile in general is very good (bar the obvious standout performers from the 2006 U21 team).
    Hopefully some of these U21’s can add to that and keep us challenging at the top for the foreseeable future.

  4. It’s not an easy day for any of those lads particularly Micky Conroy, Mickey Sweeney and Mark Ronaldson who were near enough the mark. They are Mayo through and through and deserve the height of respect as does anyone who puts on the jersey.
    One or two others are lucky enough to be still there and are just about hanging on by their fingernails. They will need to show something special before CR would call on them during a match because I reckon a couple of the u21s will soon start to look like senior IC footballers in training. If I was SR. I would keep both doors (entry and exit )open for a few more weeks, cruel and all as that might seem.

  5. Its a fairly tough decision of Mangmt. But these players can be rightly aware that they have contributed handsomely and would know how things were.
    I’m surprised that D Kirby has not stepped up enough to be involved for the summer.

  6. Genuinely feel sorry for the lads that have been cut from the panel would like to thank them for all their sacrifices and training and commitment today will be hard on the them but there’s no room for sentiment in sport and I suppose you have to be ruthless to achieve the ultimate at this level

  7. Yeah thanks to all of these players who have given great dedication to the cause, afterall it is these boys who have to put in the hard slog in the winter months etc., best of luck to them in their future careers.

    At the end of the day, Castlebar played in two All-Ireland club finals but their players did not take the great chance that was afforded to them. Our U21 team have also played in two All-Ireland finals, at Minor and U21 level. They have taken these chances with both hands so that is where our future lies.

    Best wishes to all involved in doing their very best for Mayo football.

  8. Tough on the guys – it’s hard to know what to say when we don’t have the inside track. Ronaldson, for instance, had a great league last year, and proved very useful as a sub against Galway, then end of story. Both himself and Mikey Sweeney are very clever footballers, though small and light and indeed Mickey C comes into that category to an extent. If you regard Conor O’Shea and say Conor Loftus as replacements for these, you can see what the management are thinking.

    Remember though in a famous JH cull Mark, Barry, Tom P got the boot and played their way back.

    What’s also tough of course is being ON the panel, working your ass off and never seeing a bloody minute of action.

  9. Don’t think any of the Castlebar lads can complain after that AIF disaster tbh. Either way it was always going to be Moran and Durcan pushing for a place and cunniffe until he opted out. Kirby still has plenty of time to work his way back in if he proves up to it

    Conroy’s time has passed alright but I have been a huge fan over the years so will miss him. Tough call on ronaldson but they obviously feel Andy and Dillon will still bring more. Freeman, Regan and loftus will push hard too, the latter two being new additions to champ so that was always going to push out Sweeney.

    Ah well at least no one absolutely blatant has been left out. That said there’s still loads left in the panel, he will have an unenviable job picking match day squads

  10. Tough on the lads that were let go but I’m not sure that any can have any complaints given the competition for places in the squad.
    Agree that Ronaldson, Sweeney and Conroy are probably losing out because of their height but then there are some lads of similar size that stay on, just have shone more brightly than them.
    As an aside – does anyone have a list of who remains on the panel now, and if there are any further additions from the under 21 squad?.

  11. Michael Plunkett and Matthew Ruane were outstanding for the U-21s. Would like to see them given a go. Obviously Diarmuid, Loftus and Coen will be there and I am assuming that Hall and Kenny will be as were involved in the league?

    I think it’s possibly the end for Conroy . A great talent and servant who had no luck with injuries. Possibly also for Ronaldson, another massively talented guy but his lack of size worked against him over the years

    The rest of the lads could get back in the future.

  12. Agree that Plunkett and Ruane are 2 that we should keep an eye on, but I think adding them to the Senior squad might be a little early at this point. I think Plunkett is too slight and needs to bulk up a bit more before adding to the Seniors.
    Ruane is a massively talented player, but would be competing with the likes of Seamie, Parsons, Barry Moran and Jason Gibbons to name a few. He’ll certainly be a capable replacement if any of them were to become unavailable later in the season, I just think that adding the 2 of these might be a little too soon just yet.
    I do think we’ll see a lot more of these 2 next year however.

  13. I think adding Ruane is a must. Good man to bring on with tired legs, he will run and has pace to burn most opposition. Rochford has alot of players and options in different options for different styles of play. Will be interesting what the gameplan will be come the championship and will gameplan alter once the connacht final is over. Food for thought.

  14. Mentioning JH I still maintain it was a woeful mistake leaving out Tom Parsons and indeed Aidan Kilcoyne.
    Agree that the Castlebar lads can have little to complain about. I have been a fan of Barry Moran but in truth he really has to prove himself all over again. By his own admission he had a poor first half in Cavan followed by a most disappointing display in the final when he and a couple of other senior players had very little impact on the game.
    I would have no hesitation in bringing in Matthew Ruane into the panel and although he is young and inexperienced I would trust him because he has shown great heart when heart was really needed.

  15. I think Ruane has good attributes but maybe people are being a bit hasty giving him Barry Moran’s spot I feel! I mean, he has had 2-3 good performances at u21, no more than that. We seen Galway’s all Ireland winning u21 midfield partnership who were very dominant at the grade, and what in turn happened to them against ourselves in the senior ranks…
    Ruane’s direct running style is useful, but I think it needs work before it can be effective at senior. Particularly against seasoned blanket defences and the like.

    Plunkett is a guy who really caught my eye however. Quick-thinking, intelligent, good vision, not greedy and moves the ball quickly to create the goal chance – something sorely missing in our senior ranks. How many seasoned players would have punched the ball over the bar and not even seen O’Connor coming in at the back? Similarly, how many would have gone picking the ball up instead of chipping the ball into the hands of his team mate which created a gap in the defence, resulting in another goal? Id bring him in, even to just get a feel for the thing. He has a great football brain.

  16. The Mayo News are now reporting that David Kenny has been let go as well and that only four Under 21s are involved – DOC, Coen, Loftus and Hall.

  17. Agree really about Ruane – his stamina is massive. Remember that point against Dublin in the semi final? It was truly inspirational because it was so late in the game to be able to go on a run like that and score at the end of it. There’s a touch of the Diarmaid O’Connor’s about him. Need I say more?

  18. So it seems this is the panel for the Championship – with the possibility for more Under 21s to be added after London:

    Hennelly
    Clarke

    Cafferkey
    Keane
    Barrett
    Higgins
    Harrison
    Keegan
    Boyle
    Durcan
    Vaughan
    Nally
    Drake
    Crowe
    Hall
    Coen

    S O’Shea
    Parsons
    B Moran
    Gibbons

    D O’Connor
    A O’Shea
    Doherty
    McLoughlin
    C O’Connor
    Freeman
    Regan
    C O’Shea
    Carolan
    Loftus
    Dillon
    A Moran

  19. Tough on the lads that miss out especially Conroy as it appears that would be the end of his Mayo career but one he and others can look back on with pride.

    I think we have a very competitive squad this year with a few u-21’s pushing the older lads in training is not bad thing. We now have a group of serial All Ireland winner’s coming through for the future which is not something we could ever say before.

  20. I would imagine at this point that not all U21s have been brought in. I’d say there might well be a couple of them still on the beer! Of course many of them are also doing exams at the minute so good luck to them.

    Very sad for the lads who have been let go – it’s a big blow to them and in particular it’s a sad day for Mickey Conroy who has sweated green and red for the jersey down the years.

    Disappointed too for the likes of Neil Douglas who I firmly believe has massive potential but perhaps timing went against him; however the door as we know never really shuts and those Castlebar boys will have every opportunity to play themselves back into the running.

    Best of luck to those remaining – a massive year lies ahead.

  21. Sorry for the lads that were let go, in particular Micky C I am a huge fan. The cull is a tough task and I would not wish it on anyone. It gives an opportunity to others and hopefully raises the bar for all. I agree BM needs to prove himself again after the club championship.I would like to see Mike Solan given some role with the younger players. They will one day soon be the backbone to the Mayo team and Solan would be a good focal point for them.

  22. Parsons and Kilcoyne have had a horrendous run of injuries early in their careers and were prob not available to JH. It is tough on those who were sent back to their clubs, (I dont use the word dropped as I can see some of these guys feature in the future), I hope them all the best and they did themselves proud whenever they wore the jearsy.

    regarding theU21 stepping up, I really cant see anyone who hasnt already played league football this year making the final panel, with the exception on possibly Irwin who has obvious strength. At the end of the day you need players on the bench who you know can hold their own and contribute to the team. A very big ask for these guys to step into Senior Championship football without any league games under their belt.

  23. Calling for Ruane to be brought in is very reactionary. He’s a good bit of stuff but we couldn’t be more stocked at midfield

    Declan’s post would make the most sense and 4 is more than enough. I stand corrected but i believe those 4 all saw game time in the league (I’ve tried to blur out the first few matches 😀 ). So technically no-one has been called in

    I think that’s the best option for this year. Let Akram earn his place next year and guys like Irwin, Plunkett and Ruane are likely to go far in the club champ so can put their hands up then. Give guys like this a go in the league

    As I’ve said in the immediate aftermath of the win people are understandably a bit giddy, myself included, but calling in a raft of under 21s is not productive. Under 21 standard is not on the same planet as senior intercounty. We’re a top 3 team pushing for an All Ireland, not an aging side in the doldrums

    I still think DOC is the only one who’ll see any meaningful game time this Summer, and he’s an exception

  24. Ciaran, I would like to see the u21’s involved.
    Many have won both an all ireland u21 and minor medal.
    They know how to win when the games in the melting pot, and its no harm on them pushing for inclusion into the top team, as it will push the existing players to perform or lose their place.
    Hopefully we will have a panel like Dublin where every member of the panel could make a difference if an injury/sub happens to the starting 15.
    Example been Barry Moran taken off last year because the gps gadgets worn by the players said he had peaked.
    Would Ruane/An other player have made a difference in the wide expanses of croke park with his big engine and pace?

  25. Ciaran, I would agree with you, everyone is excited by the win, but people are getting ahead of themselves. Alot of talent in the U21 team but seniors is a different standard again. For example the Ros seniors are packed with U21s and when the intensity increased in the latter stages of the league they were simply blown away. DOC is a phenomenal player but is even took him a full year of training with the seniors before he was ready for championship.

  26. I agree too that Ruane will take Gibbons/Barrys place next yar and bring a new dimension to midfield, but I do think he could do a job this year in squad as a midfielder/ halforward you being on .
    certainly has the legs to track a Michael Darragh or a David Moran, when Tom P and Seamie maybe tiring .

    Without sounding disloyal or ungrateful, credit to the lads that were dropped and best wishes to them but the lads we are bringing in bring a new dimension are fresh and have the temperament to play in the big games .
    They have proven that with their u-21 games to perform at the big games.
    The bring a refreshing confidence and stellar believe that we are not beaten until the final whistle blows.

    Is it a little dodge going with only 2 keepers for the year????

  27. I know we are all giddy with excitement after the brilliant U21 win, and there is a tendency to look for them to be rushed in.

    Today is a very tough for the 9/10 men who have been omitted. Most have put their whole lives on hold for the Green & Red.

    We are all guilty at times of saying he’s not good enough, he’s not county standard but everyone of these players should be respected for the great days they have given us.

  28. I think the cuts are logical. There probably won’t be a great diff in our team in croke park this year versus last year. Good to see loftus and co in from the u21 setup.

  29. Still think Irwin had something to offer, eye for goal, deadly at frees, even as impact sub he would offer a threat.
    There will be games where Regan wont play well/wont be allowed play well by tight top class defender and days when Cillian may get injured so I just saw Irwin as an impact sub and yet a free taker for Freemans wrong side, in Cillian possible absence.

  30. Yes, apart from the 4 involved in the league, DOC, Coen, Hall, Loftus, Irwin is the only one I can see possibly pushing for game time in the summer and thats after possible injuries to established players.

  31. We have problems at midfield and there’s no point in denying it. We were blown away in the replay against Kerry and again in the replay against Dublin. Posters have been calling for new blood for God knows how long, now we have possibilities in Ruane and others; not to start, but for the last 10 minutes or so.

    All we are talking about is joining the panel, they still would have to prove themselves in training a point I have made repeatedly. I note that Kerry have promoted a number of their U21s, Tyrone brought in two guys to start against Donegal, which was unwise, but as I say all we are talking about is joining a panel. In any case our first serious game (sorry London) is still 6 weeks away, so that’s a massive amount of training experience newbies could gain.

  32. Catcal, I def dont agree with you regarding the midfield. I think we have possibly the strongest midfield in the country, couple that with a top halfback line and AOS & DOC arould the middle, we are very strong in this area. Seamie and Parsons will start with Barry and Gibbons in reserve, after that AOS will move to Midfield then Coen.

    Ruane is a very good potential future player, but I see him as fourth in line in midfield reserves, in a 26 man panel I dont think you can carry a player who prob wont see game time. By all means include him in an extended training squad but IMO the match day panel is too soon for him right now.

  33. Hard luck to the lads who lost out. I can’t help but feel for Ronaldson though. Over the last couple of seasons he has done precious little wrong and really hasn’t got a fair chance in Championship or in this year’s league. He has always looked a very lively option either starting or coming off bench and can score. Tis strange.

  34. Good servants to the county one and all, who have all contributed in one way or another to the county’s success over the last number of years. Mickey Conroy will be missed by the lads I’d guess as he was a very popular member of the panel by all accounts and I’d say his terrible luck with injuries more so than form was the main basis for his being released back to his club.
    In saying that, it was time for a thinning of the trees as the newer saplings are starting to shoot skywards and demand their own share of the light. I think in Rochford, we have a man who will balance pragmatism with progression and I for one am looking forward to the summer.

  35. I think a lot of people are very excited about our u21 win which is of course is understandable but crow barring a heap of u21’s into the senior team is not good idea. The two grades are worlds apart. I think the 4 u21’s that took part in the league are enough for the championship panel. By all means when next years league come around bring another couple of them in! I look forward to the day when I see the likes of Ruane, irwin and akram coming off the bench to really impact a game. It’s hards for Conroy and ronaldson who have given so much to the green and red but time catches up with us all. I think the Castlebar lads will get another chance.

  36. It’s very obvious that some of the players removed from the panel are small and I have no problem with that particularly in the forward line.Gaelic Football is a big man’s game, Ok you will get away with one small player but he must be exceptional, and I don’t see that any of those players released fall in to that category, maybe Conroy in his day.
    I agree that Irwin should have been included.

  37. I agree philor. Too small. Not sure about irwin. Hardly scores enough

  38. We now have in place managers who have all won All-Ireland titles. Enda Gilvary in 2013 with the minors is still in charge this year. Michael Solan in 2016 with the U21s and will be in charge again next year. It was also mentioned a couple of months ago in The Mayo News that he is now in charge of the Academy as well. Stephen Rochford and Tony McEntee have both won All-Ireland club titles as managers and as players. McEntee has also won an All-Ireland medal as a player with Armagh. Also throw Barry Solan, Donie Buckley and the Moffats, Liam and Sean into the mix and it looks like the future of Mayo football is in good hands. Roll on the games!

  39. Very surprised and very disappointed to see Kirby dropped. There’s no new dimension to that list of forwards above barring a resurgent Evan Regan who has yet to prove he has the potency for championship football. Kirby was the man for me to make a difference at 14. I can’t see anything different there that would indicate we are going to be an altogether different force this year. Delighted to see Nally and Crowe make the panel – two wiry and tough tackling agents!. Great to see Jason Gibbons back in the fray also.

  40. Thanks to all the players go they all deserve credit but all the talk of U21 players coming really didn’t happen. Coen hall doc and Loftus were all involved last year Loftus agreed was only in the extend panel. The 4 new additions Crowe nally Gibbons and Carolan have waited for their shot and deserve it. Looking at the list I see 12 forwards I could see another 2 coming to cover for injuries especiIally for AvB games. with Kirby out I was expecting Irwin to be in TBH. Ruane Akram odooghue cunniffe reape Duffy Carr are U21 next year and have time on their side. Onwards and upwards

  41. Jeez lads, easy up on the small people. There is plenty of room for smaller people on a county GAA pitch. It’s not all about 6 foot plus lads all around the pitch. Obviously a 5′ 9″ lad wont contest with AOS with big balls in the square/contesting kickouts but its not always all about height. A good squad will have a mix of both and management will use as appropriate.

  42. I haven’t commented on here for a while so belated congratulations to the under 21’s . Before the final I was a bit worried about all the hype and since the win I think it’s lost a bit of perspective also. Yes it’s wonderful to win but it’s in the context of u 21 where alot of teams do not give it priority and under age success is not always garunteed to translate to seniors. But the u21’s have two great qualities the winning mentality and they seem to be lucky but there is a few of the old Mayo flaws with them as well like fading out of games at times, vulnerable under high ball at the back and struggling to kick points.
    What still concerns me is how the seniors were outclassed by 14 man kerry in Mchale park in the league. A lot of improvement will be needed to trouble Dublin or Kerry for Sam.
    Just on the comments above I think we need cover at midfield rember the replay last year! Factor in an injury,black card, tired legs and we could be short very easily. But overall I think we should be more hopefull then we were this time last year were stronger looking but not strong enough to gain ultimate prize but I’m sure others will disagree and let’s all enjoy finding out….Mayo Abu

  43. Commiserations to the men that were released today, it’s a tough thing to accept but that’s the way it is. After all the work and comaraderie built up with the squad mates it will be an adjustment but they will just have to mosey on and enjoy life as it is. I would just say a big Thank you to them for the effort they have made, that effort is the foundation for future Mayo players to build on and that’s something to think of when Mayo do win Sam in the coming times.

  44. Kirby is the one I think could have made it.. big and clever but perhaps form isn’t quite there after such a long club run. Ronaldson has gotten no time to prove himself to the new setup.. did well last year but could sense that he wouldn’t feature much last summer when top 15 picked to start. But disappointed for him. Mickey C would be in but for late return from injury.
    Of the new lads I think Akram who has invaluable turn of pace and Ruane who’s rate of improvement has probably been the most obvious could well be good enough next year. Coen was super in the final and has come on hugely even since last year. Pushing hard for CHB position the summer. Hall also looks uncompromising at the back and could be well in mix for corner back next year but Drake and Coen probably ahead in pecking order with their greater experience.
    Flanagan played very well in final but goalkeeper is position we really want to minimise mistakes so experience is crucial. We have 3rd top class Goalie Kenneth O’ Malley presumably still abroad but could be called on if either of the 2 in squad get injured.

  45. I don’t think we are short in midfield at all. Dublin did not clean us in replay until late but Tom P had broken finger and SOS black came at time when Barry would have been starting to tire. MacCauley was well suited to impact sub. I would not blame management for starting Barry in corner forward as many of us here myself included wanted the twin towers tactic, but it meant lack of impact sub when unexpected double hit on our midfield. That’s not something most management would plan for. AOS as midfield option was also tiring at that stage of Dublin goals and recovery time between the 2 games affects the biggest guys most. The game was outlier because of the Dubs superior recovery plan/facilities. Dublin also have the Cluxton factor which swings midfield most days in their favour and teams need a plan for it. Seems full court press for 70 is not sustainable. Against Kerry in 2014 yes we were cleaned by David Moran who was in form of his life in both games and so was every other team they played that year apart from Donegal who had a plan for him. Barry was just back from injury and Tom P was beginning his comeback from exile and did pretty well. The way to beat Kerry in that dept is rotate as we have 6 lads who can play there including AOS and Coen. Indeed Kerry will be rotating this year with Sheehan and Donaghy featuring lots. Tom P has huge engine but I think we should rotate SOS and Barry. Kerry Goalie is not as good as Cluxton with kickouts so they rely on superior aerial ability which is not a given against Mayo.

  46. Thank you to all the players who have been released,we owe them a massive amount ,they put there life’s on hold for the good of mayo football ,hopefully they had some enjoyment from it ,and some may well be back again.It wont have been easy for management but to be the best you have to be ruthless,I am very hopeful that we will get over the line this year ,so hard decisions will be taken in summer,someone said we are a top three team,I believe we are ahead of kerry at this stage,and only dublin are our rivals,

  47. Was looking back through WJs archives there at the contribution the two older lads – Conroy and Ronaldson – have made over the years. There’s no doubting they have both put in an exceptional effort over the last decade for Mayo.

    However, one surprising stat I noticed is that Mark Ronaldson doesn’t appear to have ever started a championship game for Mayo. I counted at least 10 sub appearances dating back as far as 2008 but couldn’t find any games that he started in. Definitely a player who deserved more of a run in the team over the years, which might have brought him on in terms of his development as a player had he been given the chance.

  48. Regarding the U21’s – if Rochford is to bring in more this summer I think he’ll be thinking of that ageing fullback line with our three stalwarts in the 29-31 age bracket. That’s the one sector where we probably have the least mix of youth and experience. While Eoin O’Donoghue and Seamus Cunniffe are unlikely to challenge for a place on the match day 26, the training and development at this level would be invaluable for them and would accelerate their integration into the squad over the coming years… which is an imperative. Either way, we can look forward to seeing plenty of our young heroes getting a good run during the FBD next January.

  49. Shuffly Deck, Agree midfield not an issue we are carrying 5 recognised midfielders, 6 including Coen. More than enough in a 26 man panel. Midfield is more than covered.

    45 also agree, of all the areas in the panel, full Back line is dangerously thin. An injury to Harrison or Barrett and I think we are in trouble at corner back.

  50. Mayogaa put up a picture of squad getting their gear for Championship this morning. I see Fionan Duffy in the picture.

  51. Coen is recognised at senior level as more of a corner back/half back cover. It was just lack.of cover why he came on at midfield against Dublin.
    For the full backline we have:
    Harrison – 23/24
    Keane – 25/26
    Coen – 21
    Hall – 21
    Crowe – 25
    I could see Coen having a chance at centre back starting. Gives you the physicality of:
    Keegan Coen Boyle as a half backline.

  52. I didnt see Fionan Duffy in that picture. Brian Reape to left of picture with Michael Hall.

  53. Well spotted, Redcol. The photo mentioned is on Twitter – here. I’m sure someone will be able to compile the full list from that! Perfect job for a wet morning.

  54. I wouldnt read too much into that photo, a publicity pic for eleverys. 30 guys in it with no, AOS, SOS, Dillon.

  55. I think thats Ger Caff between Barrett and Parsons face half covered. Its someone six foot and Duffy is 5’9″ at best.
    I think on left behind Brian Reape is Conor Loftus.
    I only see missing, SOS, COS and Dillon.

  56. Yeah, JP that’s Ger all right. I was referring to the forehead to the right of Ger but need ??

  57. Ill guess with the hairline n height thats Dillon. Just a forehead. Duffy has a fringe n aint ageing yet 🙂

  58. A big thank you to all the lads who have been released back to their clubs, in particular Mickey Conroy, Mark Ronaldson and Mickey Sweeney. All of them have been great servants to Mayo football over the years.

  59. Is that P Durcan with face covered?. 2 osheas and Dillon missing would bring to 32. That means only 5 21s.

  60. Jesus guys, I thought I knew these fellas and I can’t account for half of them. I’m impressed by this close reading!

  61. Believe it or not Ruane has only just turned 19! Like DOC a great prospect if he keeps progressing at this rate.

  62. A big thank you also to the guys who are released back to their clubs for their service over the years. Looking at that photograph and the championship panel that is starting to emerge.. its hard not to be impressed. Great balance of youth, experience, tallent, leaders and an overall strength in depth. With this bunch of lads been orchistrated by an experienced and shrewd management team gives me great optimisim for the season ahead.

  63. Touch of class from Michael conroy on his tweet , I would have kept him on

    Who would people like to see in goal this year ? Clarke for me

    I think the overall squad is better equipped then last year , hope we push on

  64. Congrats to our new captain Cillian, best of luck to him and his team for the season ahead!

    I’d prefer to see Clarke in goals for us. He is the kind of goalie that would probably get 8 out of 10 across the board in all categories. Robbie might get 9 in some categories but he’d probably get 7 in some others. Therefore I’d see Clarke as been the more consistent keeper overall.

  65. Hard luck to ladies they did their best congrats to cillian getting captain totally desversed for him. Who vice captain.

  66. Congratulations to Cillian on appointment as captain. He certainly has leadership qualities but I didn’t think it would be this year. Colm Boyle would be my choice.
    Comiserations to the ladies but you really have to admire Cork very professional approach and so consistent.

  67. I would love to know why so many on this blog are against Robbie being our no1 goalie. surely he has proved himself in the last five years to be one of the best..I would like to see him start as No1 and if his standards drop then bring in Clarke.

  68. I’ve said it before – I fully believe Robbie can be the best ‘keeper in Ireland. He has the ability.
    Cillian will make an excellent captain.

  69. This daft discussion starts up every couple of weeks, at this stage it is obviously a veiled dig/attack at Hennelly. I really dont see what some peoples problem is with him. He has been the No 1 keeper for Mayo for the past 5 years. Horan, Holmes/ Connelly & Rochford have all picked him so he is obviously doing someting right.

    Clarke And Hennelly are both fine keepers,we are so lucky to have them when other counties are hoping to find one decent keeper. I really dont care which one Rochford picks as I know either will do a good job.

  70. We actually seen a perfect example last weekend in the All-Ireland U21 final of how important it is to have a solid goalkeeper. Our keeper was the more consistent keeper and that went a long way to ensuring that we got the win. The less mistakes that your keeper makes the better your chances are of winning the big games.

    The pressure just seems to get to Robbie sometimes, he seems like a really sound fella and it’s nothing against him or anything like that but he just seems to make errors at really crucial times, like with the two goals that we conceded against Dublin in the replay last year and the goal that we conceded against Dublin in the 2013 final. He is a really top shot stopper, remember the penalty save that he made against Galway in 2014 but other areas of his game can let him down.

    Clarke had come back in to be our no. 1 last year, he played in the Connacht final against Sligo and was selected for the Donegal game but he got injured before that game and Robbie came back in again. If Robbie could just cut out those crucial errors then that would be great to see but otherwise I’d prefer David Clarke in goals, it’s nothing personal. Who knows maybe Robbie will be a lot more solid this year, we’ll see how it goes.

  71. I think its really unfair to say the pressure gets to Robbie and to blame him for so called crucial errors. Mayo have lost big games beacuse of the way we defend pure and simple, not by lack of forwards, keeping errors, refs, venues etc but by the manner in which we defend as a unit.

    In 2014 & 2015 Mayo have conceeded 22 goals each year league and championship. That is just crazy, 44 goals in two years! Our half back line are playing way to far forward, Keegan, Boyle, Vaughan are excellent players but they are not forwards, their primary function is defending. They leave way too much space between the back lines. In the two games v Dub last year Dub got the vast majority of their scores by simple diagonal balls into the vast space between the back lines for runners like Flynn, McCaffery, even McMahon. All running at an exposed full back line. This is the true root of the goals conceeded, not errors by the keeper.

    As I have said, I really dont care who is in goal, both are really good keepers but this discussion crops up every few weeks really just to put Robbie down for some reason. Mayos real problem is Defending not who plays in goal. Regan maybe a revelation this year and we might not kick another wide all year but if Mayo continue to defend in the same manner as previous seasons then we will loose again this year.

  72. The point I was making was that I think in general Clarke makes less mistakes than Robbie, that’s it really for me. At the end of the day who doesn’t make mistakes, we all do. The very best of luck to whoever is our no. 1 keeper this year.

  73. I really don’t think saying someone prefers Clarke in goal is Dig/attack at hennelly. Clarke is a better goal keeper. He’s a bigger man, commands his area better and is better under a high ball. I think if it wasn’t for injuries he would have been out no.1 for the majority of the last 5 years. That’s not an attack of hennelly I just think Clarke is better. I think hennelly fully deserves his place on the panel and is a fine goalkeeper which in turn isn’t an attack on Kenneth o malley. I agree our gung Ho defending at times has left our full back line exposed at times in the past but I wonder would we have been as successful as we have without our attacking half back line. I think not. The strength of this Mayo team has been our ability to run at teams which starts from our half back line. The amount of crucial points lee Keegan has got for us over the years! I think rochford has chosen to move away from that style of play now but I still think it’s one of our best assets. I hope he’s able to find a balance!

  74. Mayomad – why are you getting so defensive about this issue? Just because others see Clarke as their preferred choice doesn’t mean they have some kind of set against Hennelly.

    I’d be another who would prefer Clarke. I’ve seen a lot of both of them and I just think Clarke is a better and more dependable keeper. That doesn’t mean I have any particular issue with Hennelly and if he gets the nod I’ll support him all the way. I do think Clarke is one of the best keepers I’ve seen play for Mayo though, it’s just a shame he seems to pick up so many injuries – it’s unusual for a keeper to get as many as he has had.

  75. I’ve always been favourable towards David Clarke in goal, he commands his area superbly, excellent shot stopper, and anyone who’s ever talked with me on this issue will know how much I would always have been in favour of Clarke. However, in the Down game just passed, it was clear that the advantage that Robbie has over Clarke is in the kick outs. I hated to admit it then, but the kick outs that day put us under severe pressure time and time again. I think our midfielders thrive on ball they can run into/onto. which Robbie gives them. I am not saying for one instance Clarkes kickouts are bad, just they don’t tend to favour Aiden, Seamie, Tom or Gibbons but do favour big bird. horses for courses type.

  76. I thnk I said this before but the best goalkeeper in the land over the past 10 years is Cluxton and this is not based on his shot stopping ability (as I’d rate Clarke and Hennelly ahead of him in this category), its not based on his ice cool calm composure or his command of the square under a high ball.. its based on the accuracy of his kickouts simply because of the importance of primary possession. He can restart in seconds by kicking out with either feet, long or short, with fantastic height or trajectory on the ball to an accuracy of a few feet. He faces the kick outs head on so you don’t know whether he is going left, right or down the middle. He runs forwards and midfields ragged chasing shadows. This is a rare tallent and all goal keepers of all ages up and down the Country are trying to replicate this with varying degrees of success.. its a risky strategy with some kicking directly to forward (even Cluxton has fallen foul of this) only for it to go whizzing back past your ear.
    Earlier in the year we were complaining about the height of Clarkes kickouts or the Hennelly continually kicking down the middle. I think there’s very little between Clarke and Hennelly in all other categories. If we want to decide who stands between the posts we need to look at the stats on possession from kick outs where teams push up on us in high octane games such as quarter finals and Semi’s.. difficult I know because Clarke has so many injuries. If both keepers work their socks off in this area of their game and are supported by a tightened defence then this ever recurring topic will end because we will then have possibly the two best keepers in the country fighting for a starting spot. The management won’t be long seeing who has improved most in the AvB game’s.

  77. Toe to hand, that is by far the best, well thought out post I have read here on this topic. Could not agree more with you. Let the two of them work hard and the manager will go with whom ever he feels can offer the most in the game ahead.

  78. This debate does appear every now and then. It seems that sometimes your better off being on the bench as your stature grows more with every game you DON’T play. Richie Feeney reached near mythical status in 2014 by not playing a game at all bar the last few minutes of extra time in Limerick, were as by playing you expose yourself to criticism and analysis.

  79. @Liam
    In fairness to Clarkie he has been selected when fully fit by the last two management teams ahead of Robbie whereas Richie Feeney was continually left on the bench as an impact sub.

    Just back in from the Ballina v Ardnaree league game with Ballina winning easily. Just for reference Clarkie gave an exhibition of all types of kickouts long and short into and with the wind and I think he had 100% success with his kickouts!!!

    Best for Ballina were Padraig O’ Hora ( his time with the MAYO squad has brought him to a higher level definitely!!) , Mikey Murrary (in great form after winning with the U21’s) , Evan Regan , Alex Corduff and Rooster Champion (you can’t beat lightning pace).

    Also Ger Caff came on and had a good solid 15 minutes showing no ill effects from his recent hamstring injury.

  80. Was at the Garrymore – Castlebar match. Shane Nally gave a dominant display in the Middle of the Field. Barry Moran started Full Forward and moved to Midfield. He was reasonable. Patrick Durcan came on at Wing Back, he wasn’t making his usual attacking breaks. Caolan Crowe played at Centre Forward for Garrymore and was in direct competition with Ger McDonagh. Would say Crowe got slightly the better of the duel.

    Really impressed with Nally, seems to have improved from the County Training he caught some great balls and had over 40 possessions.

  81. Interesting stuff there REDCOL. Good too that Nally was showing well. Have to say I had mixed feelings about him in the league. He was very good against Dublin, but in other matches i thought he was hesitant in possession and his body language didn’t inspire confidence, particularly if you think of Durcan, Akram, Drake even. Still management have a lot of confidence in him and he’s not really a newbie in age terms.

    Caolan Crowe could be a dark horse, not showy but getting the job done. Think Tony McEntee might like that.

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