14 out of 15 ain’t bad

First things first I have to allow myself a small bit of gloating. The Mayo team has been announced – thanks to Willie Joe at www.mayogaablog.com for bringing it to the world wide web – and, amazingly, last night’s stab at the team saw me get fourteen of the fifteen actually selected right.

The team in full is as follows – Kenneth O’Malley, Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Andy Moran, David Heaney, Ronan McGarrity, Pat Harte, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon, Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Moran, Aidan O’Shea.

WITHIN TOUCHING DISTANCE: Liam O'Malley has been picked to start, provided his injury clears up.

WITHIN TOUCHING DISTANCE: Liam O'Malley has been picked to start, provided his injury clears up.

The only player we got wrong was Liam O’Malley – whom we thought wouldn’t be fit to start but he has been given the nod.

Now that we know the team, the next issue is the analysis of it. There are a few big calls here. David Heaney at midfield is one and Aidan Kilcoyne at top of the right is the other.

In the case of Kilcoyne and Heaney, their selections come at the expense of Tom Parsons and Conor Mortimer, two players who many would have pencilled in as key men for Mayo. So, in that sense, they are brave calls. Calls which John O’Mahony will have to stand over if things go wrong.

But, as I said here last night, Parsons is not quite the finished product and this selection might make him think, retrospectively, that he was perhaps a bit ahead of himself after what was, admittedly, a fine first season.

Selection on the Irish International Rules team was, as far as I’m concerned, a step too far though and it would have been hard for Parsons to keep in touch with reality. And the reality is this – he is a hugely promising player and has the ability to be a Mayo midfielder for ten years. But, but, but he still has lots to learn. Use of the ball, use of his left foot and use of his brain contesting possession need to improve. Maybe I’m sounding harsh but them the facts as far as I’m concerned.

What his demotion might mean is a reappraisal of Parsons by himself. He won’t ever want for workrate but he’ll be a man on a mission when, and it will certainly happen, he is introduced on Saturday.

And then there’s Conoreen Mortimer. Our top scorer for how long? A good few years anyway – I don’t have time to outline a categoric total. But our top scorer is on the bench. It is another brave call but, like Parsons, one I can see some justification for.

IN AT FULL-FORWARD: Barry Moran

IN AT FULL-FORWARD: Barry Moran

In only one National League game was I happy in any sense with Mortimer and that was the final game against Tyrone (ironically the game where he broke his hand). And it wasn’t because he was a massive threat, it was more because of a noticeable increase in his workrate.

This had been caused, I think it’s fair to assume, by the fact that he was dropped for the previous game, against Galway, and had a point to prove. But, even though his workrate was impressive, his class was not in evident. He is struggling for form and, reportedly, that hasn’t picked up since he returned from full-training.

He has struggled for form before and been left on the team. John O’Mahony has drawn a clear line in the sand this time though – everyone has to earn their place. It doesn’t matter if you are the team’s top scorer or the only member of the team to play for Ireland last year. Everyone has to earn their place.

That, hopefully, will work in our advantage on Saturday.

But it means big, big pressure is on David Heaney and Aidan Kilcoyne. Heaney hasn’t played a competitive game since the Tyrone defeat last August. While the same could be said of Keith Higgins, Higgins has eight years on Heaney and the Swinford man is being thrown into midfield. He’ll likely come up against Kevin Higgins and hopefully work more in tandem with McGarrity than Parsons has (as I’ve said here before Parsons and McGarrity are very similar players, and therefore an uncompatible midfield duo and, being honest, McGarrity has to consider himself lucky).

And then Kilcoyne has serious pressure on him. Considered by many, myself included, to be a better option from the bench, on Saturday he gets a real chance to show that he is capable of doing it from the start.

Many have argued that he is better suited to the inside forward line rather than wing-forward, where he has been mostly tried for Mayo, and he could certainly make hay playing off Barry Moran and Aidan O’Shea. One concern though is why has he gone from getting hardly a look-in in the NFL to starting against Roscommon in championship?

We hear he’s flying in training. We hope he is and we hope he can do the business on Saturday.

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2 Responses to “14 out of 15 ain’t bad”


  1. 1 Peter Rumley June 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    You still got the team wrong

  2. 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout June 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    You’re a hard man to please Peter! I could still get the fifteen right if Liam O’Malley fails the fitness test and Vaughan comes in. Not that I want O’Malley to fail a fitness test of course!


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