Update on player availability

Photo: MichaelMaye.com

Now that we’re out of the harum-scarum, week after week action of the League and have a further horizon to contemplate – with 13th May branded into our collective minds as the next date to focus on – it’s as good a time as any to have a look at player availability, in terms of who’s injured, who’s on the mend, when are lads likely to be available and all that.

Mike Finnerty has a good piece in this week’s Mayo News (here) which summarises most of this. Those of you who’ve listened to the Mayo News football podcast (in case you haven’t it’s here) will also have heard Edwin McGreal recount what Stephen Rochford said on this very topic after the match on Sunday. If you want to listen back to it again, the relevant bit on the podcast starts around the 40 minute mark.

Let’s start with the bad news, the very bad news, the Lee Keegan out for “three to four months” news. Lee has already undergone his shoulder surgery so it’s now a case of rehab and recovery. If we make it through Connacht he won’t be there for any of that, if we’re shunted into the qualifiers, he won’t be around for that fun and games either. Bottom line is that if we’re to make to the All-Ireland Series and the novel new Super 8s, we’re going to have to do so without the services of possibly the finest player ever to don the Mayo jersey.

The good news is that the bad news on Lee is the only bad news in what is otherwise a good news story. If you follow me.

Cillian O’Connor, who limped off with a torn hamstring on the same day that Lee got poleaxed, has about four to five weeks to go before he’ll be ready to get back to full training. He should be fine for the Galway game.

Ready for action again already are Chris Barrett (who lined out with Belmullet the weekend before last) and Donal Vaughan, who’s expected to start for his new club Castlebar Mitchels in the championship next month. Ed reports on the podcast that Brendan Harrison is “touch and go” to be ready for Aghamore’s championship opener in two weeks time but that he’s another who’ll be back in the frame for the Galway match.

Back playing ball too is Keith Higgins, who played his first football match of the year with Ballyhaunis last Saturday, and who could also be back in the frame for the showdown with the neighbours in Castlebar. As Mike and Ed both confirm, the arrangement with Keith was that he’d spend the League with the hurlers but that he and Stephen Rochford would speak again after the spring matches were over. That discussion has yet to happen but Ed says on the podcast that Stephen is “reasonably confident” the Ballyhaunis man will be back with the squad for May.

Also in the squad and involved in full training already is Cian Hanley. The young Ballagh man lined out with his club last weekend and, depending on his progress, he could well be an intriguing new option in the forward line for us over the coming months.

Ed also mentions Evan Regan as another player likely to be back in action in time to face Galway. The Ballina man wasn’t mentioned by Rochy in that injury update (as Ed says, time was short and not every player was name-checked in it) but, when Evan suffered that bad injury against Kerry back in early February, it was reported that he’d be out for up to eight weeks. That takes us to early April, which would leave Evan a month or more full training ahead of our championship opener. On that basis, he should be good to go too.

So, that’s it. All good news aside from Lee, about which nothing at this stage but the passage of time can help.

55 thoughts on “Update on player availability

  1. Jesus, you tend to forget the quality we have coming back. We snatched that result on Sunday with some serious talent on the sidelines.

  2. Well you’re only mighty, Willie Joe.
    Now you have a job on to keep us entertained until May, but no doubt you will.
    Not too late to launch a new career, though selfishly I hope you don’t, as it might impinge on the blog.
    God bless you and spare you the health.

  3. Even allowing for his anticipated return, I’d still be worried about Cillian. Is two weeks’ realistically enough time to get him back up to championship speed? I anticipate that no prisoners will be taken on May 13th, especially if we consider Galway’s dreadful recent disciplinary record in matches against us.

    Harrison, Vaughan, Barrett and possibly Keith will be huge additions to the backline, especially in Lee’s absence. Crowe and O’Donoghue have done well so far, though, so hopefully some of the returning lads can slip in around the ’40.

    Hanley could also be a great man to spring from the bench if we need an injection of speed against that Galway blanket.

  4. Interesting piece (nothing to do with this player availability issue but just interesting) by Colm Parkinson (here) about the ultra-defensive tactics both Galway and Carlow have deployed this spring. Wooly reckons that while this might have worked for both so far in the League it’s very unlikely to do so in the championship.

  5. Not sure about Wooly’s piece. How come Galway have been so successful in this year’s league if their defensive methods are so obsolete (its not as if teams haven’t encountered this before)? Anyhow, even Dublin now have gone very defensive often putting back 13/14 players in defence when needed (Kerry too). The problem with Wooly’s argument is that its not an exact science and only time will tell whether Galway’s defensive set-up will be a success in the summer.

  6. Still demented when I think of Evsn’s & Leeroy injuries, pure malice in both cases…
    Onwards & upwards lads ???

  7. Galway have the personnel to be very dangerous if they took on a more attacking game plan. Talent wise I feel they are equal to Mayo, but it’s that undefinable quality called leadership that still puts us slightly ahead of them in my opinion. We have proven championship leaders who get better as the games get bigger. Galway’s last big championship match was a textbook example of a team with a major lack of leadership. Now that they are a year older and have a season of div 1 football under their belts, you’d expect that some of their main players won’t be as listless and mentally soft as they were last year. If so, they could be a contender. The signs are good for them. But they have it all to prove yet. #TheChampionship

  8. It’s fantastic these lads are back but how long will it ll it take them to get match fit?

  9. don’t agree with you Larry Duff.

    When Mayo are at peak condition like end of aug/sept last year how many Galway players would make the Mayo team.

  10. Leroy will return and will have been running to keep the fitness up anyways so I think he will slip in seamlessly. That’s one thing, the other is that Crowe, Boland, Loftus and co have been training and learning from the best players in the country, that has to have an effect someway or other. Hanley too will add an X factor that cannot be overlooked, nobody can tell where he will play or what he can do but I wouldn’t like to be the one marking him if he comes on with 20 minutes to go.

  11. Galway have played a 2 half tactic so far in the league. Defensive for 1st half, loosen the shackles for opening 20 minutes or so of the 2nd half and play it as required for remainder. Clever really, they’re never really out of a game come Half Time. Opposition expect same upon restart. Then they get a few early scores at start of the 2nd half by opening up a bit. Players know what Plan B is whenever it’s required.

  12. Thanks WJ. I have to agree with J Murphy there, the assaults on Evan an Lee were sickening, and still infuriate me when i think of them. I hope all those ‘mouthpieces’ and so called ‘experts’ incl some recently retired players from our own County, who deafeningly said sweet fa about these incidents at the time and since, make a bit more noise next time when such violence is directed our way. I regret to say it, but i turn the radio over, or turn the newspaper page when these gobshites start spewing.
    Thanks again for that piece and all your great work WJ, and in my book, Leeroy aside, the future looks good re the health of our squad.
    My old alma mater Westport CBS or Colaiste Ris as it’s now known, are playing a Hogan cup all Irl final in Croker on Sat week (7/4) for the first time ever, and on that side, which comprises mostly Westport lads, but also have a few from Burrishoole, Kilmeena, Islandeady and a couple more parishes, there is some serious footballing quality, incl some with solid Mayo football pedigree. I expect a few of these lads to don the green an red some day, and with youth in mind, it truly was great to see the younger lads on the Mayo team step up last Sunday in Ballybofey. They say we have nobody coming through, well, the future is bright, we know what we’re talking about!
    Good luck to Lee an Cillian, and roll on the 13th.
    Maigh Eo Abu!

  13. I don’t think Galway could live with us at full throttle but we are such slow starters, May 13th has me really worried. Whatever about Gaway fading later on in the championship, they’ll still be flying in 7 weeks. With all the players to come back in its hard pick the back line but I think O’Donuhue has done enough to maintain his spot with Harrison and Higgins beside him. Durcan and Boyle are certain for the half back line and if Barrett was fully fit I’d put him in aswell. Midfield will be Tom and Seamie. As for the forwards I think Loftus deserves a start which means either Diarmuid or Doherty will lose out.

  14. 50:50 Game on the 13th of May… Galway have player’s to come back as well.. I know Coraifin play a fantastic style of attacking football, very suited to Croke Park, but the Galway league style, very similar to Tyrone is easy enough to implement in McHale Park,… Still tough it’s hard see Kevin Walsh not including some of the Corafin player’s such is their Ability. McHale Park is the finest venue in Connacht, but actually smaller playing area than Salthill or the Hyde….So I expect Galway to play the Tyrone way in Castlebar next May. Our recent form in McHale Park is a concern…. Due to the miles on the Clock, and age profile of so many of our experienced players, all hoping to be in peak condition around August and September, I still expect Galway to be nearer to optimum fitness than us, when we meet in May… I hope Mayo get a good start, and if we can get a decent lead early on , that in itself will render the Galway Shawl (Blanket) a poor tactic. Well begun half done.

  15. The reason the defensive plan adopted by Galway amoung others is so successful in the league is that the opposing teams are not up to full speed and collective thinking to break it down. kick passing, running off the shoulder, defenders joining the attack, not been caught in possession, breaking the line and shot selection all have to be top drawer. We, which is the norm by now, are woeful against these defensive strucures during the league and it takes along time in the championship even to get it right. We are however far better, like Kerry & Dublin who are at the same thing, spending as much time as possible blooding and assessing new recruits on trying to dismantle these defensive structures rather than spendind a large porportion of our resources setting them up simply to look good on a ranking table. Its a very risky approach for survival in the league and winning games in the early championship rounds but it has proven, for us at least, to be far more benefical later in the season if you make it that far. Why have Donegal, who introduced this, suddenly changing tack this year? because they know it dosnt work anymore. Woolie is right but it’s hardly a case that Galway’s defensive secret is suddenly out. My thinking is Galway are using this defensive structure as a base from which they will adapt, over the next year or two, into a more balanced attack defensive system which I would say McStay and Roscommon are working since the hammering we gave them last year. The question is, will we be up to speed in time, before Galway come to town? It’s a risky approach we are and have adopted in the past but the rewards can be great and really it’s the only way if we ever want to get our hands on big lugs.

  16. Anyone know the extent of Ciaran Treacy from Ballina Stephenites injury.He didn’t feature with Ballina against Aghamore Saturday nite, he was was supposed to be flying it in training up until the injury.

  17. We all seen how ineffective loftus was against the packed Galway defence in the league. What will be different in May?

  18. David Clarke;
    Brendan Harrison, Donal Vaughan, Keith Higgins;
    Paddy Durcan, Chris Barrett , Colm Boyle;
    Tom Parsons, Seamus O’Shea;
    Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor
    Jason Doherty; Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran

    With that latest injury update all going well Mayo “could” start with this team v Galway on May 13th. Basically one short of what was their strongest team last year.

  19. I like that team mayomagic, id be reluctant to start Loftus and to a lesser extent O’Donoghue, against Galway. We need the proven, phsically hardend operators for May ‘13, its no game to be starting young lads simply because of they’re age. They can all get 70mins in the semi v Sligo if all goes to plan. May ‘13 is a cup final, simple as.

  20. Still flittering over Leeroy’s injury. And having to face an operation and long rehab after only coming back.The injustice. How we will miss him in May.

  21. Lee is of course irreplaceable but the consolation is that we have ample cover in that area in the form of Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen, Donie Vaughan, Chris Barrett, players who can defend and offer plenty offensively too. Hopefully if we get that far we can call on Lee later in the season when we’ll need every bit of his talent.
    Galway will be very tough without him but there is loads of time now to plan in his absence. There’s a decent mix of experience and youth to work with around this.

  22. A lot of new names coming in here appraising Galway? “Loftus in the League” (Robinbanks)…terrific praise of Galway’s cleverness by a ‘Smig’???????……I may be wrong but ” beware of GEEKS bearing gifts”

  23. They’re not new names here, Citog, and everyone has a right to their say. As long as the maroon balloon keeps getting inflated I wouldn’t be too bothered!

  24. Keith Higgins’ availability v Galway is crucial.With O’Donoghue so solid in the corner Keith can give us that injection of pace going forward which was such a crucial piece of Lee’s armory without leaving a gap at the back.
    I hope that I do not fall into WJ’s cardinal sin of trash talking but I would like somebody to tell me what David Drake brings to the Mayo team. Usually deployed as a forward, even if his role is as a defensive forward, I don’t think he has scored once. We do not need a nonscoring forward even if we have excellent scoring returns from our defence. He may well be a very hardworking player but I’m afraid that does not make up the difference.

  25. In fairness to David Drake, he provided the assist for 2 of our points in the 1st half against Donegal and won a free at the start of the 2nd half. He seemed to pick up an injury during the game and probably should have been subbed earlier than he was. I don’t see him starting once we get a few more bodies back.

  26. Off-topic again but, just for info, this afternoon St Ronan’s of Armagh beat PS Chorcha Dhuibhne in the Hogan Cup semi-final, booking a place in the final against Rice College. This was a major shock – the school was only formed three years ago and the win ends a four-year Kerry lock on the Hogan Cup. Match report on today’s semi-final is here.

  27. Willie Joe,I think there is a lot of talk about 13th May & how great Galway are going but come championship day everything is changed. What happened in the League is irrelevant now, there is a different & harder edge to training, fitness, mentality & preparation. Mayo & Galway will have one great battle because the rivalry is very intense between these two great counties. One thing I am sure of is the winner will definitely be playing in September. I think Mayo will be 100% ready & chomping at the bit to get at Galway on the 13th May.

  28. A view from south of the border….

    In light of Kevin McLoughlin’s heroics on Sunday (fouling of the ball aside) I think how we (Galway) fare on Sunday could actually have a bit of a bearing on May 13th. If we get the hiding against Dublin that many are predicting, it could have a very detrimental effect on young side that has shown flakiness in the past (Rossies ’17) (Kerry ’17) (Tipp ’16) spring to mind.

    A big defeat on Sunday and we will be facing a buoyed up Mayo side that firmly believe that they still have wherewithal to see out anyone. I have no doubt that Mayo have a laser guided missile on Galway this year. There will be no way that they will want to be beaten by Galway three years in a row. A Mayo side primed up to the max is not one to be taken lightly. Yes Mayo will be minus probably the best footballer in the country, he’s a massive loss, it simply means that someone else will have to pick up Shane Walsh. I imagine it will be Paddy Durcan.
    O’Donoghue has impressed me and there is potential in Conor Loftus.

    As regards the league final, I actually think we will have huge chance of beating the Dubs on Sunday. Should our forwards click they could do damage. Yes at the moment we are playing very negative defensive dross, Galway are getting roundly savaged in the media for this. It’s odd though, for the best part of 10 years we have been told that we are ‘too nice’ and ‘too open at the back’. A lot of that was true tbh. Once a defensive system has been put in place, the knives are out. Yes we play a Tyrone system, but the difference is that we have much better forwards than Tyrone imho. I don’t see us playing it if we are still involved come the super 8’s.

    I hope we do well on Sunday as a big loss could be ruinous for our prospects in Castlebar in 5 weeks time. The place will be thronged, it will be like the good old days of scorching hot summer days and the odd broken crossbar. Do or die. Has a Connacht Championship quarter final ever been so eagerly anticipated?

  29. While it’s heart warming to hear of so many players coming back, you’d have to wonder how many of them will be back to peak physical and match fitness by May 13th. We will have to be at our very best to get the better of Galway so having players take to the field lacking that razor sharpness would only have one outcome. On the topic of Loftus starting in the half forwards – I’d be in favour with Diarmuid dropping back to left half back position.

  30. Wow… that’s an amazing result and sets an interesting and novel colleges AIF….Hogan Cup for Westport…Colaiste Rís Abú.
    Galway have had (thus far) an amazing league and they will surely be feeling good about themselves. Then there’s the Corofin players who gave a masterclass in Croke Park…it really shows their talent and strength at present. Sunday will give a good indication of where they are at. Dublin want to win this…can Galway stop them? I doubt it and for the sake of Mayo football in May I hope Dublin win…love your neighbor and all that… Maigheo mo foireann…go deo!!

  31. AYTS yes I think Galway will play well on Sunday but Dublin have a set up that is very hard to beat & I expect them to win by three or four points even though Galway will stay with them for 40/45 minutes because that third quarter is where they push on to kill off the game. I hope I’m wrong & I wish Galway the best of luck.

  32. Willie Joe, watched St Ronans, Lurgan, play St Mary’s, Magherafelt, in McRory cup final – it was a cracking match. Young Rioghan Meehan is a top class forward we are going to hear a lot more of. Rice College have done brilliantly this year, so hopefully they will put it up to the Armagh boys!

  33. Willie Joe, interesting mention by you of the Hogan Cup. Like many Mayo lads over the years, and like my father before me, I was a boarder in St Jarlath’s College Tuam in the 70s when they were the premier school in the Hogan competition (….still hold the record for most Hogan titles, 12). I recall great clashes with St. Colman’s Claremorris and St. Mary’s Galway in the Connacht campaign, then Colmans Newry, Coláiste Chríost Rí Cork, Gormanstown etc. in the All-Ireland stages. Many Mayo seniors, including the great Padraig Brogan, Ciaran O’Malley and our two Lyons brothers , came through the football system there, in the latter years, coached by the legend Fr. Oliver Hughes. The Galway 1998 and 2000 senior teams had around 12-13 Jarlath’s lads on the panel. Alas, since the demise of boarding, the school hasn’t fared as well, and on occasion have even been uncompetitive with Summerhill Sligo, never a gaelic football stronghold back in the day, but who have done great work in recent years. The last Hogan title Jarlaths won was, I think, in 2004, when Michael Meehan captained the team. My father (RIP) and I were like school ‘ladeens again at that match in Carrick-On-Shannon, revelling in the victory !……………………….Great memories……Thanks for bringing it up.

  34. Everything seems to be coming together nicely. A good bunch of new blood really pushing to establish themselves and alot of the old guard almost ready for the championship. The experienced players coming back have had a good break and will only be chomping at the bit to get back to the action. There is one main goal now and that is to stay in the championship until that man Leroy joins the brigade. That should be well within our grasp with the addition of these young lads who have put in solid displays in the past couple of months.

  35. Hope mayo supporters can make Croke Park on April 7 to shout on nathys and rice college in both colleges finals. Can’t remember two mayo schools achieving this in the one year. Will certainly be there if the club championship game is on Sunday. Great memories from 2017 from Croke Park when Ballinrobe community school won the B all Ireland in extra time.

  36. @A year till Sunday,…My worry for Galway on Sunday is the hiding the Dub’s gave to Kerry recently… Now Kerry did not play defensively that particular day , they tried that in the past and again to no avail versus this present Dublin team, but still there isn’t much that the Kingdom don’t know about playing Dublin in Croke Park… Kerry beat Dublin in last year’s league final, playing offensively and Dublin were not in any mood to do anything other than give Kerry a good trashing …Very interesting day in Croker next Sunday… Thinking of going myself as my Mayo season ticket will get me in… But some of our neighbours in both Galway and Roscommon, might prevail on their Mayo season ticket holders neighbours and get a free ticket to the match… Same goes for Div 3 & 4 finals… I must look at the terms and conditions of the Season ticket again,, to see if letting someone else use your ticket that you already paid for is within the rules.. You never know it might be a bit like talking too many steps before scoring,… Not a thing I ever even dreamt of doing … Certainly not something any Mayo player ever got away with.. Is it next Sunday yet?.. Who knows, maybe Dublin will be the one April Fooled by Galway,!

  37. Championship Team
    1 Clarke
    2 Barrett
    3 Harrison
    4 O Donoughe
    5 Boyle
    6 Higgins
    7 Durcan
    8 A O Shea
    9 Parsons
    10 McLoughlin (sweeping)
    11 D O Connor
    12 Loftus
    13 Doherty
    14 A Moran
    15 C O Connor

  38. A thought occurred to me on Sunday last: Clarke’s kickout now matches Hennelly’s in every way. Anybody agree/disagree?

  39. Disagree AndyD, not getting into who is better as that has been debated to death, but no way are the two the same in every way, mainly beacuse no two players are the same. Robbies kicks tends to have a lower trajectory, David tends to get more height in his kicks. Both players are physically different, address the ball in different ways, if a professional analyzed both im certain they would find numerous differences.

  40. Why do we keep going back to David and Robbie for David is the best ball stopper best high ball we should be getting behind the two of them we are so lucky to have them who ever is in goal ?

  41. Revellino, cannot disagree with that if we can navigate safely through to Super 8’s and get Lee back!

  42. We must have nearly thirty players fighting for a starting place,I believe that there will be far tougher training matches than Galway will give us,it’s no about Galway now it is all about September up Mayo

  43. Corick Bridge. I would disagree with you, Mayo lose to Galway there will be no September. Cant see us surviving another qualifer route then being lower seed in super 8. Super 8 doesnt suit Mayo, only one game in Croke Park where we play our best football. Anyway we just cant lose three championship games to Galway in a row, it just cant happen.

  44. @A Year til Sunday: I’m very much looking forward to the NFL finals, actually. Galway have a fine young side with some immense forward talent in Comer, Conroy and Walsh (serious pace there) and a touch of steel between Sean Andy, Kyne etc. in the back line, and I’d actually like them to beat Dublin, no harm having a new team on the winner’s podium.

    However, I’m not sure that Galway will win playing the defensive tactics heretofore employed. It’s one thing holding the Dubs on a tight pitch into a gale-force win, quite another in the wide open yonder of Croke Park. The Dubs have also done a good job of cracking counter-defensive systems over the past few years.

    As for May 13th, it’s hard to know. Mayo’s preparations have hardly been ideal with some many key players absent, while Galway have been flying. Whether the teams’ respective form lines are temporary or permanent is something we’ll only know after the game.

    What most Mayo fans will expect (and demand) is a much more competent performance from our lads than in the league encounter.

  45. Hope Galway win on Sunday,but have we not learned nothing from the last few seasons,last year Kerry,Donegal,and Tyrone were going to take off and best Dublin,season before Roscommon were the coming team,winter football is completely different to summer football,come May we will be ready to meet Galway,we will beat them easily

  46. Clarke
    Barrett, Harrison, EOD
    Vaughan, Boyle, Durcan
    DOC (Sweeper)
    AOS Parsons
    J Doc Loftus McLoughin
    COC Moran

    Subs: SOS, Higgins, (Hanley?) Coen, Hall, Regan, Crowe

  47. @ITMNTM and others, fair points all-round.

    I am amazed as anyone that we are in a league final. I was at the division 2 league final last year and the difference between the Division 2 final and the Division 1 final was stark. We looked a million miles off that level at the time.

    I take people’s point that there is a difference between winter football and summer football. This Mayo team seem to have cornered how to peak at the best time of the year. And that alone has me concerned as a Galwayman. In all likelihood we are close to the peak of our powers at the moment. Who know’s, maybe there’s another bit in Galway for later in the year. Recent history would suggest that there isn’t.

    For Mayo people on here discounting May 13th and focusing on winning an All Ireland. Fair enough, but be warned. When I was younger, I would have similar thoughts back when we were at the peak of our powers (98 – 01). I not unreasonably thought that we would constantly be at the business end of the championship a long time to come. Alas It just didn’t happen. We were beaten by Kerry in a brilliant game in ’03, and drew with and were unlucky to lose to Donegal side the following year and that was more or less it for that very very good Galway side. Be warned, it happens, and when it happens it happens almost unbeknownst to supporters, as it does happen very quickly in the end. Even Dublin with all their millions will fade off eventually. Nobody has a right to be there every September. As we know in Galway that right is very hard earned.

  48. Well said,but a little bit of banter lightens the mood no doubt we will fall down at some stage,don’t think it will be this season but we have had a brilliant few years,all the best to Galway on Sunday but will be ready for Galway in May

  49. For what its worth a year til sunday , I think Galway have a fantastic side who will land sam in the next few years . Unfortunately I think ye have our measure now but the next clash will be a very close one imo. However its the clashes after in 2019/20/21/22/23/24/25 where we will be playing second fiddle to a very good galway team.

    Best of luck Sunday , hope ye win it.

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