Tuesday round-up

With our opening league match now less than a week away there are a few things to get through, which I meant to do earlier on but then work intervened.

First bit of news is that Clare’s Rory Hickey will ref Sunday’s match. Checking through the archive, it looks like it’s been a while since we’ve had him doing one of our matches – the most recent one I can find is back at the start of the 2012 league campaign, when he reffed our opening NFL match that February against Laois.

Next is the story in today’s Mayo News (paper and digital version) confirming that six of the team that started in last year’s All-Ireland final won’t be available for selection to face Kildare on Sunday. Chris Barrett, Donal Vaughan, Seamus O’Shea, Alan Dillon and Cillian O’Connor have all undergone surgical procedures of one kind or another since last September and none of them are back to full fitness yet, while¬†Tom Cunniffe is concentrating on Castlebar Mitchels’ big clash against Dr. Crokes next month.

So too, of course, are both¬†Barry Moran and Richie Feeney (subs last September) while goalkeepers David Clarke and Kenneth O’Malley are still out of action with injuries.Then you also need to factor in that a few of the lads who saw action in the FBD, such as Mitchels’ Eoghan Reilly and Tom King and Kiltane’s Mikie Sweeney, are also indisposed due to club action while fringe players Conor Loftus and Conor O’Shea are both injured. Hence that rather lurid story in Hogan Stand that we’re down “13 or 14” players for Sunday.

The reality, of course, is that because of these absences playing places are set to open up for others. This piece in the Mayo News focuses on four lads – Shane McHale, Jason Gibbons, Cathal Freeman, Brian Gallagher – who are all set to see some serious first-team action over the coming weeks. In addition to this quartet, others who featured prominently in the recent FBD campaign – such as Kevin Keane, Brendan Harrison, David Drake, Adam Gallagher, Diarmuid O’Connor and Darren Coen, as well as the returning Tom Parsons – are sure to be in the frame too so it’s not as if we don’t have plenty of choice all over the field.

Next up, in case you haven’t been following developments regarding Club ’51, you might want to know that they’ve arranged a pre-match meet-up in Newbridge at the Liffey Arms on Main Street – full details here. I might try and stick my head in the door there myself if time permits ahead of throw-in at St. Conleth’s Park on Sunday.

Finally, all the various draws for this year’s Senior, Intermediate and Junior club championships were made last night. Full details on these draws are here – Senior, Intermediate and Junior.

32 thoughts on “Tuesday round-up

  1. I think we should look at the “weakened” squad in a positive light. We are now being almost forced to play some fringe players in a game that they otherwise might not have seen any action in. Let’s not underestimate Kildare for one minute as this Sundays game will be a serious test for us. Kidare have a new manager that is familiar with the players having worked with McGeeney last year and Ryan is a cute operator. Kildare have scored freely in their games to date, have a big powerful and mobile team and the players may think they have something to prove after the shambles of the county board dropping McGeeney. So, taking everything into account, it is a game that Horan may have ideally chosen to stick with a more seasoned and experienced and looked at an easier home game to introduce some fringe players.
    Let’s be honest, we know what Clarke, Barrett, Cunniffe, Vaughan, Moran, O’Shea, Feeney, Dillion and O’Connor can do for us. If they were all available and all played and we won in Newbridge, would we be any wiser as to the strength of our squad? No, I don’t think so. What we have is an ideal chance to have a look at the likes of McHale, Gibbons, Keane and Parsons and see if they are real alternatives to the starting 15. They have all been there for 3 or 4 seasons now and if they are to claim a place and force somebody else off the team then Sunday is the day to prove to the management that they are the men to do it. For Darren Coen, Cathal Freeman and Brian Gallagher I think they are in the situation where they need games to fully adapt to this level, and that may mean sticking with them when they go through bad spells in matches or things don’t exactly work out for them. If we want new faces coming through into the squad then we all need to be patient and allow the newer players to make mistakes and let them adjust. The players need to know that they are not going to be dropped or taken off at the first sign of underperforming.
    As for Harrison and Adam Gallagher I believe that they talent is there for all to see and there is no doubt in my mind that they are both senior intercounty players in the making. They just need to be allowed to develop and give them time.
    We could get well beaten this Sunday but I still think it is an exciting opprotunity to see just where we are in terms of the depth of quality available to Horan.

  2. I agree. Especially now with the black card in play there has to be a direct replacement for every position. Example – In August if G Caff gets a black card after 5 min last thing you want to see is a big reshuffle, it has to be a quick and direct replacement.

    Giving fringe players a reasonable chance to make it is way more important than sending out a full team every day trying to win the league.

    But it would be nice to achieve both!

  3. Could I ask for suggestions about parking around Newbridge, please? Is it one of those grounds that you have to get there early?

  4. Now that the early skirmishes of the FBD league are out of the way it’s time for the more serious business of the National League to commence, or is it? In his first interview of the year, James Horan not surprisingly, came out with some fighting talk about the County’s prospects for 2014 and part of the plan was that they would definitely be targeting winning the league this year. I suppose when dealing with Mayo football and indeed listening to James Horan interviews a good dose of realism is important. The team taking the field on Sunday is of course missing many of the more established players, but as Pebblesmeller pointed out above this might be no bad thing, as it gives the new lads a golden opportunity to impress the boss. However impressing the boss and winning the league are two different things and as James would have known from the start, many of the more established players (through injury or their involvement with their Clubs) would not be available for some time,it makes you wonder was he a bit tongue-in-cheek regarding the League. That said and using that well worn phrase, we are where we are, so let’s put our best foot forward – and who knows where it will take us.

  5. We are where we are alright however at the same time there are guys who have been on the panel now the past 2/3 years. So they should be able to cope with National League standard football even if it is Division 1. These fellas are not coming in blind to Mayo setup and have been exposed to the conditioning and levels required for All Ireland champions material. It’s seriously time for some of them to be pushing hard now for a place on this Mayo team. I suppose what I’m really saying is that we should not really miss the guys who are out. Others must be able to step up. Maybe this is what JH is hoping for as well.

  6. Great post there Pebblesmeller. Agree 100%. If we learn from a loss at this stage, it could be of huge benefit later in the year!! Surely now it’s the Championship that is all important.

    A thought about Evan Regan; maybe it is true he is not available as he needs to pursue his studies. That is his future livelihood and good luck to him. He will still be back but just not this year.

  7. I think the lads getting a good run out and a good performance might be more important than the final score.

  8. Agree with you fully jpm.i think horan feels finishing in the top 4 of the league is a very realistic target. By the time the league comes to semi-final stage, we’ll have alot of seasoned players back and he could go all out for it if we are there. The fringe players that are sent out in newbridge will be goin hell for leather at kildare, for the likes of drake, gallager, mchale, its going to be a massive oppourtunity for them to stake a claim for summer time. Im going against alot of peoples predictions here, but, i think we’ll grind out a win in newbridge. Mayo by 2.

  9. JPM what you say about these players who have been around the panel for a while, been able to step up, makes perfect since but after last years experience, some may feel it’s not a level playing field. For most of the year, most of these guys were merely bum’s on seats, along for the ride sorta speak and any opportunity’s they were given were merely a token gesture, after the serious business of winning the match was taken care of.

    Witnessing this first hand naturally left players a bit frustrated, as they too were going through the pain barrier at training and doing all the could do to stay in the loop, and yet when the opportunity did come along, they were immediately under pressure to perform, knowing full well the least mistake and they were back in the bin. This is no way way to build a close and successful panel of players – look at Alix Ferguson, no one was safe under his watch, yet he was the most successful manager ever. Heading into a new year, no one can tell how things will go but let’s hope that whatever success the team have, that all panel members will feel they contributed their share somewhere along the way…….

  10. Fair enough Mayo Mchale however I believe that now if they do get the chance to impress they have to take it.
    You make the compassion to Alex Ferguson. Well this is more than likely James Horan’s last shot at winning as manager of Mayo. He’s no fool, and he should know full well that if he wants it badly enough, he will have to be as ruthless needs be if he is to get the best out of this team. The players should know this too.

    In saying that I therefore think that maybe before players could automatically say to their buddies, “Forget about that team going out for the League and me not there. Mayo can’t do without me!”

    However my opinion now is that with the panel we have there is very little room for fellas to be complacent (even top drawer names). The bums on seats as you called them have their chance now with all of the injuries and the Castlebar contingent missing. If they want it badly enough they should must show their mettle.

    These guys have played inter county championship and Division 1 League for Mayo for past two years. They should be more than capable of coping with any of the hurdles put in front of them in the League.

    (If they are good enough !!)

  11. kildare are chomping at the bit to get at mayo on sunday .its aperfect test for the fringe players to show their worth on sunday ,id say kildare byleast 3points hope im wrong .but kildare are streets ahead in terms of fitness looking foward to a good hard battle its what we need at this stage

  12. Kildare are over hyped hopefully mayo will beat them we own them one after losing to them last year actually prefer the dubs to Kildare

  13. iagree they have being over hyped inthe past without justification ,they seemto be more focused this year ,mayo are upthere with thebest teams in the country ,every county will be out to put us back in our box ,there will be somesavage tests ahead in the leauge id be happy with 6 points midtable.then we can set oursights on the one only thing that matters bringing sam home

  14. IT Sligo were beaten in their Sigerson cup game this afternoon 0-11 to 1-15 Evan Regan did most of the scoring for the Sligo student again.

  15. As ever you’re spot on Pebblesmeller. I don’t think we did this enough last year, so Sunday is a good opportunity for us to give the less experienced lads a run-out. I won’t be too disappointed if we lose as a result if it benefits us more down the line.

  16. Yeah according to the reports on the game, he was pretty impressive again. It’ll be a real shame if he does not play for the Mayo senior team this year. Its interesting to note that the two McHugh brothers, Mark and Ryan, who played in this game as well for IT Sligo, were named in the Donegal team to play Laois at the week-end.

  17. I was just reading the Connaught Telegraph’s report from last year’s game against Kildare in the league. It really sums up in one game, what our main problems have been over the last number of years. Start well, build up a lead, concede a goal, let the other team back into the game, lots of missed chances, lack of leadership (especially in terms of free taking responsibility), lose in a close finish by a point. In summary, lose a game that we should have won! You would really hope that this year, these types of issues are eradicated from our play or else we’ll struggle again to climb that final mountain of winning some major silverware. A link to the report is below.


  18. An interview in today’s star with Evan and he isn’t ruling out playing for Mayo. He says he just wants to concentrate on Sigerson and u-21 for the moment and get a good run with both injury free. He also says ( you always want to play for your county, I want to get back in but we ll just have to see what happens over the next couple of months). In Horan speak he says , I’m going to keep enjoying it and see where it takes me. He also says he had a lot of injuries in the last two years, so maybe James is right to just let him carry on for now and see if he can finally get over these problems.

  19. Apparently Evan Regan was simply outstanding today for Sligo IT. I’ve been chatting to a few rossies lately and they were all about Evan after their FBD game in ballyforan. He was shabbily treated before when he was in the mayo squad and from what I’ve seen this year he’s the left footed forward in mayo since the mort last played for us. He needs to be in the county set up pronto especially with the likes of Cillian out for the next few months.

    I’m just wondering if anyone knows where Liam Irwin from breaffy has gone to? He was very good for the minors last year and he starred for breaffy in the county final. I haven’t seen him in any of the u21 teams in the Hastings cup and he got no run in the FBD. Is he injured or what?

  20. Moyles commented on Twitter that it was one of the finest individual performances he has witnessed in 4 years of Sigerson football.

  21. This is the same Connaught Telegraph that, in this weeks paper, claimed that Kildare were coached last year by “Eamon McGreaney”???? and that last years match against Mayo in MacHale Park was a DRAW ???? I have heard of lazy journalism before but that is pathetic. Journo & Editor asleep at the wheel, or typewriter, as it should be.
    After Aiden Henrys piece subsequent to the All Ireland this year I decided the Connaught was only good for cleaning windows.

  22. If you ask me, this guy Regan has been well advised, he’s still a young man with time on his side, seems like the under 21s is his priority for now and playing hard to get might make Horan more appreciative of a real talent. Don’t know the lad or never saw him play but if he’s as good as reports would suggest, Mayo could have a trump card for later on in the season, when it matters most.

  23. Evan is concentrating on the U21’s this year and he is 100% right after shaking off a Knee injury that troubled him in 2012 and only really left him in March last year. Also the reason he declined to join the panel this month is because he is seriously considering emigrating (not going on the beer for three months) to America at the end of the college year. I think (not 100% sure) he has an American passport due to being born there and he is not sure about the current college course he is doing so a year break might be the best thing for him and while it’s a blow in the short term it maybe the best thing for Mayo in the long term as well although I think at the end of the day he should do what is best for him regardless of Mayo.

  24. I agree. There is a lot of rumour, speculation and “high stool” talk and most of it, I imagine, is ill informed. At the end of the day, if the lad doesn’t really want to be part of the senior set-up (and I am not saying that is the case!!!) then no amount of coercion or persuasion will work. The players have to be 100% committed to the squad and fully focused on what is required. If that is not the case, for whatever reason, then the player will not play to their utmost potential. Let the lad decide his own path without us wrecking his head. If he decides to join the squad then we are the lucky ones. If he decides otherwise then the best if luck to him.

  25. That’s absolutely correct, Pebblesmeller, it’s his decision if he wants to be in the squad, should he get an invitation to join it. It’s as well to leave it at that and see how things pan out over the next few months.

  26. Team for Sunday:

    1. Robert Hennelly – Breaffy
    2. Kevin Keane – Westport
    3. Ger Cafferkey – Ballina Stephenites
    4. Colm Boyle – Davitts
    5. Lee Keegan – Westport
    6. Shane McHale – Knockmore
    7. Brendan Harrison – Aghamore
    8. Tom Parsons – Charlestown Sarsfields
    9. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    10. Cathal Carolan – Crossmolina Deel Rovers
    11. Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis
    12. Adam Gallagher – Mayo Gaels
    13. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    14. Andy Moran – Ballaghaderreen (Capt.)
    15. Darren Coen – Hollymount/Carramore

    Lots to chew on….

    – Boyle at corner back
    – Shane McHale at CB
    – Parsons gets the nod at midfield
    – Adam Gallagher likewise at 12
    – Kevin Mc at corner-forward?
    – No place for Alan Freeman

    Let the fun begin ;o)

  27. Yeah Pebblesmeller, that was very unprofessional alright, those mistakes that were made in this weeks paper, I noticed that too, when I was reading the article. My main point about last year’s game against Kildare, was that we lost a game that we should have won. Last year’s All-Ireland final against Dublin followed the same narrative as well, not being ruthless enough when the game was there to be finished off. As we did against Galway and Donegal, last year. So more of those kinds of performances would be great and less of the Kildare and Dublin type performances, would be just what the doctor ordered!

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