Who’ll go to war against the Tribes?

IF we can say one thing with certainty it is that the Mayo team that starts on Sunday will differ hugely from that picked for last year’s decider. At least seven of the team from 12 months ago won’t start and that really is an incredible turnover in such a short space of time.

Had we time to do so we’d check to see when the last time such a turnover was from one year to the next

For the record the team that started in McHale Park for the ’08 decider (thanks to Willie Joe’s priceless results archive at mayogaablog.com) was David Clarke; Keith Higgins, Kieran Conroy, Colm Boyle; Tom Cunniffe, David Heaney, James Nallen; Ronan McGarrity, Tom Parsons; Pat Harte, Alan Dillon, Trevor Mortimer; Conor Mortimer, Austin O’Malley, Andy Moran.

INJURED: David Clarke

INJURED: David Clarke

Clarke, Cunniffe and McGarrity all have injury worries, Kieran Conroy, Austin O’Malley, Conor Mortimer and James Nallen are all likely to be subs with Colm Boyle off the panel altogether. And looking back at the team that started against Roscommon and compare it to the above and it is hard not to be a lot more optimistic this time around.

But just how close to the Roscommon line-up will John O’Mahony’s selection for Sunday be. We had the (insert appropriate word) fortune/foresight/fluke to pick the right starting team ahead of the Roscommon game the previous Tuesday, calling correctly that Tom Parsons and Conor Mortimer would lose their places but we won’t be betting our house on calling the exact team this time around.

Two reasons. The first is the question over whether Ronan McGarrity will start and, if not, who will replace him. The second concerns one of the corner-back spots. Other than that we think the team is fairly nailed on.

Kenneth O’Malley will start in goal. Ger Cafferkey and Keith Higgins will be two of the players in front of him in the full-back line.  Trevor Howley will man the heart of defence with Peadar Gardiner and Andy Moran either side of him.

David Heaney will occupy one midfield position while the most constant line on the field (and the only unchanged one from last year’s final, or even near it for that matter) will be the half-forward line of Harte, Dillon and Trevor Mort.

Aidan O’Shea will be the first name picked in the full-forward line and Aidan Kilcoyne will start after his blistering start against Roscommon, helped somewhat by the lack of a real challenge for the jersey from a subdued Conor Mortimer.

Barry Moran will be the luckiest to start in the full-forward line. A poor display against Roscommon and an absence from some training in the lead-up to Sunday due to a minor injury won’t have helped him but O’Mahony’s game plan revolves around two big men inside and losing Moran would neutralise the threat of the long ball somewhat.

The type of long ball that the likes of Andy Moran at wing-back can deliver superbly and is as much a reason for his placing there as any other.

SET FOR A RECALL?: Will Liam O'Malley be called back into the Mayo team after injury?

SET FOR A RECALL?: Will Liam O'Malley be called back into the Mayo team after injury?

But then there are the two question marks. One corner-back spot is uncertain. Donal Vaughan did well against Roscommon but there appears to be a possibility that Liam O’Malley, now back from injury, will edge him out. Personally I’d go for Vaughan but there is the question as to whether his ability on the back foot is suited to the corner.

If O’Malley is fully fit then he would appear more suited for picking up someone like Sean Armstrong. I just liked the glimpses of attacking corner-back play that Vaughan showed against Roscommon and with Galway likely to play just two inside, he could have filled this role and let Keith Higgins take Sean Armstrong.

But O’Mahony is a fan of the Burrishoole man and perservered with him during the league so I reckon he’ll recall him here.

Midfield is even less certain. Ronan McGarrity could yet make a shock return despite a cheekbone fracture just over a week ago (a disgraceful attack but I’m not going to go into it here, enough has been said on the matter, I just hope punishment is meted out to the assailant). Were McGarrity to be fully-fit then it would be a huge benefit for Mayo. But the reality is he won’t be fully-fit. He can’t be. The question for John O’Mahony is would he prefer Ronan McGarrity at 90%, 80% or even 70% instead of a fully-fit alternative.

Will Ronan be ready and willing to ‘get stuck in’ if the going gets tough knowing the potential harm he’s putting himself in? I’d be surprised if he was and that’s no disservice to him, merely a commentary on human nature. Certainly if someone like Barry Cullinane starts at midfield for Galway, or even Niall Coleman, does O’Mahony expect that tough footballers like this will be careful for McGarrity’s welfare. They won’t and they shouldn’t. They’ll go in full blooded for everything and were the shoe on the other foot, the same would apply.

RETURN TO MIDFIELD: Tom Parsons looks the likely alternative to Ronan McGarrity at midfield but we're hedging our bets somewhat on this selection call.

RETURN TO MIDFIELD: Tom Parsons looks the likely alternative to Ronan McGarrity at midfield but we're hedging our bets somewhat on this selection call.

Therefore I don’t think he can start. So who will? Tom Parsons would be the obvious choice and I reckon he will start but I’m going to throw in a curve ball. Not one to pencil in as a definite but one most certainly not to rule out – Seamus O’Shea.

The Breaffy man has, from what I can see, only played seven minutes of league or championship football this year. His form has been inconsistent and he was probably towards the back end of the thirty picked for the championship panel.

But I believe he is flying at training since the Roscommon game and, against him, Parsons hasn’t been excelling. I recall from when O’Shea was last on top form, during last year’s Under 21 campaign, that he looked the more impressive of the two but Parsons went onto star last year.

I have said it before that Parsons is still raw and has plenty to learn. But the same is true of O’Shea. His form can fluctuate and his use of the ball isn’t always excellent. O’Mahony has shown that he is a believer of form in training – Heaney and Kilcoyne coming in for the Roscommon game being a case in point. But the lack of time O’Shea got in the league might hint at the fact that O’Mahony isn’t a huge fan. It would also be a huge call to pluck a guy from the edge of the squad to make his championship debut on Sunday.

We’ll know soon enough (we believe the team will be picked Wednesday night). What we’re going for is two changes from the Roscommon game. Liam O’Malley for Donal Vaughan and Tom Parsons for Ronan McGarrity.

Predicted Mayo team: Kenneth O’Malley; Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins;  Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Andy Moran; David Heaney, Tom Parsons; Pat Harte, Alan Dillon, Trevor Mortimer; Aidan O’Shea, Barry Moran, Aidan Kilcoyne.

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6 Responses to “Who’ll go to war against the Tribes?”


  1. 1 AbbeySider July 15, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Predicted Mayo team: Kenneth O’Malley; Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Donal Vaughan; Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Andy Moran; David Heaney, Tom Parsons; Pat Harte, Alan Dillon, Trevor Mortimer; Aidan O’Shea, Barry Moran, Aidan Kilcoyne.

    A typo perhaps?
    Where is Keith Higgins? Did you say that Liam O Malley would swap in for Vaughan? You have Vaughan corner back. 😉

  2. 2 Peter Rumley July 15, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Feckin wrong team again…..tut tut !!!

  3. 3 thereisalightthatnevergoesout July 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Good spot Abbeysider! And it’d take Peter Rumley to be on my back! By the way Peter I actually did get the right team for the Roscommon game! Some people are only happy complaining 😉

    • 4 albany July 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

      and you could have the team right here too.. k higging excepted as mc garrity will hardly start unles his injury was never a fracture the pain of recieving a blow to a broken bone is too severe to allow him play for very long not to mention the risk of long term damage so i go for mc g on the bench to come on if needed

    • 5 Peter Rumley(the real one) November 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm

      Theres obviously somebody pretending to represent me on here.Having just stumbled on this site i have to say im impressed with the previews and the work that goes with them .
      We learned little or nothing from the Club championships this year,apart from McDonald and O,Neill are still 2 of the best forwards in the County.With the news of Aidan O,Sheas trial and inevitable departure to OZ its hard to be upbeat about our chances for the year ahead.However come May we will be out in force and dreaming of Glory in September again.
      Keep up the good work.
      Peter

      • 6 thereisalightthatnevergoesout January 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm

        thanks Peter. Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery clearly! We’ve been quiet for a long time but back on track now for 2010. Maigh Eo Abú


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