Alternative Mayo XV?

IT wasn’t too long ago that John O’Mahony wrote a column in The Western People where he picked an alternate fifteen to the Mayo team that John Maughan was sending out for Mayo.
O’Mahony strenuously pointed out that it wasn’t a thinly veiled dig at Maughan’s own selection, merely a means of pointing out the talent available in Mayo that such a strong second team could be picked.
Maughan didn’t see it like that and felt O’Mahony was trying to stir things and Maughan said as much when the roles were reversed. As recently as today Maughan has struck back saying Ciaran McDonald should be in the Mayo panel. Hardly music to O’Mahony’s ears.

TIMES PAST: Ciaran McDonald celebrating his part in victory over Galway is likely to be a thing of the past.

TIMES PAST: Ciaran McDonald celebrating his part in victory over Galway is likely to be a thing of the past.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the issue, there’s no doubt it can create great debate. So we’re going to set ourselves an even harder target. O’Mahony selected his fifteen from those below the first fifteen for Mayo.
We’re going to look outside the recently announced Mayo panel of 30 and examine how strong a team is out there that will have to pay through the gates like me and you to watch Mayo this summer.
Some players are a fair distance from the Mayo squad while quite a few will certainly feel they have a lot to offer. We’ve tried to pick the players in their best positions but some adjustments have been made to make it as strong a 15 as possible. We won’t say it’s a definitive list – such selections are a matter of opinion but we think it makes for some interesting reading.

Goalkeeper: Robert Hennelly (Breaffy). Part of the Mayo panel for the NFL, Hennelly was one of four players culled in recent weeks. A steady performer for the Under 21s this season and an outstanding ‘keeper for last year’s Minors, Hennelly will be back in the senior squad sooner rather than later we think.

Right-full back: Aidan Higgins (Charlestown). We’re very surprised that Higgins was let go from the Mayo panel less than a week after being called back in. We’re a county short on quality corner-backs but Higgins is certainly one player who fits that criteria. We’re unlikely to see him again in a Mayo jersey but we have to think he still has something to offer this year. John O’Mahony doesn’t and he’s the man in charge.

Full-back: John Brogan (Knockmore). Has there been a more consistent full-back at senior club level in the county? Brogan has been a rock at the back for Knockmore and despite being small in stature, he regurlarly controlled his patch with authority. We do admit that height would be a problem for him holding down a central position at inter-county level.

Left-corner back: Dermot Geraghty (Shrule/Glencorrib). When discussing where the Under 21s of 2004 went to, we highlighted the case of Dermot Geraghty as one player who certainly has got a raw deal. Often criticised for being too small, Geraghty was rarely bettered by his direct opponent and his inter-county career certainly ended far too early. If he maintains his form at club level, the next Mayo manager could well call back the 26 year old.

PLENTY TO OFFER: Dermot Geraghty.

PLENTY TO OFFER: Dermot Geraghty.

Right-half back: Sean Prendergast (Claremorris). It amazed a lot of people around Claremorris that Sean Prendergast could not make the Mayo Under 21 team this year and TIALTNGO was similarly confused. But I’m still convinced he has a big future for Mayo. A tough, tenacious defender who loves to attack, Prendergast is a footballing wing-back, something we seem to struggle with at present. You heard it here first . . .

Centre-half back: David Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen). IT’S amazing to think now that David Kilcullen started at centre-half back for the Mayo senior team in their championship defeat to Derry in 2007 whilst still a teenager. That he is not still part of the Mayo senior squad is not the fault of John O’Mahony – Kilcullen decided to play no club football at all for the first half of 2007. But his football ability makes him a very creative man at centre-back and he has much to offer – IF he wants to.

Left-half back: Dermot Higgins (Charlestown). Following his brother Aidan into the back six, we’re surprised Dermot has never been given a shot at Mayo football. A consistently excellent performer for his club, Higgins has blinding pace that can hurt most teams when he is on the front foot. Whether he would make the step up or not remains to be seen but he has certainly been worth a look over the years.

Midfield: Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber). Like Sean Prendergast, Gibbons is another player of whom we were surprised not to see on the Under 21 team. We reckon he has serious potential. Not in the Mayo minor team in 2007 as much due to his own lack of commitment as anything else, Gibbons completely turned that around with a wonderful year for Ballintubber in 2008 and he is still U-21 next year. Like Prendergast, we’ll see more of him.

Midfield: David Tiernan (Charlestown). Okay, we’re not expecting Ginger to play for Mayo ever again but he continues to defy the ageing process at club level and has been the key Charlestown midfielder for the last two years – in spite of the fact that his partner in crime is Tom Parsons. A Roy Keane type personality – we mean that as a compliment – don’t be surprised to see another tour de force from him this year.

Right-half forward: Aidan Campbell (Swinford). Dropped from the Mayo panel last winter, Campbell is still only 22 and while he has disappointed at senior level thus far, we think an ‘arm around the shoulder’ style of management could bring out the best in him and he has plenty of potential to improve.

Centre-half forward: Ciaran McDonald (Crossmolina). Honestly now, how many of you scrolled down to the number 11 before looking at any other names? When the issue of absent friends comes up one name stands head and shoulders above all else. Still doing the stuff at club football, there aren’t too many people who think McDonald was past his best before at inter-county level. Unfortunately John O’Mahony was one of them.

Left-half forward: Mickey Mullins (Claremorris). ON the fringes of the Mayo senior squad for the last two years, did the flyer from Claremorris get a fair crack of the whip? We don’t think so. Scored a whopping 2-5 last week against Castlebar the very same weekend he was dropped from team Mayo. A man on a mission perhaps! Expect that mission to be a summer long one and a lot of people might be asking why isn’t he on the sqaud by summer’s end.

Right-full forward: Marty McNicholas (Breaffy). Certainly a player who had a lot of bad luck at inter-county level, it seemed McNicholas was going to be a key man in 2007 before injury and management intervened. Dropped from the squad later that year, McNicholas continues to keep his name in lights for his club and kicked five points (four from play) for Breaffy last Sunday.



Full-forward: Damien Munnelly (Knockmore). Like his clubmate Brogan, Munnelly’s stature is held against him. But he has been a consistent performer and as we noted in the review of the 2004 Under 21s, surely he would be an option for the number 15 jersey this year? A good freetaker too, he would thrive in playing off a big man like Aidan O’Shea or Barry Moran.

Left-full forward: Enda Varley (Garrymore). On his wrong side but Varley has to be here. And he has to be in the Mayo squad in my humble opinion. A star man for Garrymore for the last five years, he has also excelled for the University of Limerick these past two years. Strong, fast and accurate from anywhere inside the fifty, what’s there not to like? Answers on a postcard.

Well there you have it. A serious fifteen we think. And we haven’t included players like Colm Boyle, Stephen Drake, Ger Brady (x2) and Barry Regan (very difficult one to leave out). We’ve a lot of good footballers in the county, hence our strong and competitive club championship. We’re not going to suggest that we’ve a senior panel (or potential one) full of top class players. But we do feel there is a few players outside the loop who shouldn’t be. Just a thought.


4 Responses to “Alternative Mayo XV?”

  1. 1 onthoad April 25, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    TIALGO, of course there is stacks of talent we never use in the county. I think of the talent we soured, the likes of Paul Coady from the monors of 1999, Brogan would be a marvellous full back. To play for Mayo you seem to have to fall into a certain bracket, we seem to avoid any tough forceful players. That Ger Brady of CLaremorris was never properly used annoys me. Others were given years to nail a spot but never could. Had Bellew, Dooher, or Mick Lyons been born in Mayo, they would have never got a county jersey. I think the Biesty chap from England who logged on to you is a former top player from the late 1950s.

    • 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout May 6, 2009 at 10:06 pm

      Yeah we have a high turnover onthoad. Coady was a class player but he prefers the rugby. Could someone have made a difference from a mentoring point of view? Perhaps.
      We do need to be a bit more organised and structured rather than the ad hoc set up we have now.

  2. 3 Mac April 25, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    TIALTNGO: Great article. Thanks for this and the other pieces on the progression (or lack thereof) of the 04 and 06 under 21 teams. Good analysis and a great read.


    • 4 thereisalightthatnevergoesout May 6, 2009 at 10:07 pm


      You’re very welcome. I haven’t been as busy on the blog the last two weeks but hope to rectify that sharpish!

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