The light didn’t go out, it just dimmed

After a few months hibernation I’m back. I knew when I picked the name ThereIsALightThatNeverGoesOut for this blog I was leaving myself wide open to friendly fire if I took a spell off. My last post was just ahead of the All-Ireland Minor final but, like the King in the Kit Kat ad I’m not dead baby, I’m just taking a break.

OUT: Austy O'Malley has not been named in the Mayo FBD squad.

Each January brings with it new hope, new drive and new passion. Be that in our own individual lives or in the hopes and ambitions of those we follow. And with Mayo that rings true too. We’re back now for the FBD on Sunday against NUI Galway in Garrymore. It is about as far removed from Meath in Croke Park as we could imagine but every year brings a fresh start and a chance for everyone to right the wrongs of last year.

It will be a very interesting year for Mayo. A lot of question marks, unfortunately, hang over us. How players and management go about answering these questions will be the mark of them.

Certainly the FBD won’t provide all the answers. Truth is it will answer damn all but it may give a clue as to intention. Intention among the management perhaps to give youth its fling, to experiment. Intention among players to see every game as an opportunity to progress individually, and, as a result, progress the team.

The panel for the FBD has been picked (surely this is ridiculous – should managers not be given the chance to experiment as widely as possible instead of being curtailed by a 26 man panel?). There are some new additions to the panel – which are welcome – but I don’t feel they have went far enough.

We all know Mayo need to bring new players on stream so why not leave those players which we know can do a particular job and use an experimental panel. For instance are we going to learn anything about Peadar Gardiner, Pat Harte, Ronan McGarrity or Trevor Mortimer by watching them in the FBD? Methinks not. So why not give them a slight rest (training trial games are taking place most weekends anyway) and give a few young guns a shot at the title.

Sadly I think we are a bit to slow to experiement and take risks. But we will see in time.

Certainly we can excuse a lot of Under 21 players being absent with their championship opener v Leitrim less than eight weeks ago (there’s still seven in the panel while two more are absent due to college commitments – Kevin McLoughlin and Jason Doherty). But I would have found it interesting to see how players like James Kilcullen, James Burke and Enda Varley, all who have been involved in trial games in recent weeks, would fare out in the FBD. Certainly Kilcullen is as strong a midfielder as we have in the county while Burke picked up a Dublin Club Star at wing-back this year.

Varley is a potentially class scoring forward (we don’t grow them on trees, do we?) although he could still be in college – a mature student he most definitely would be at this stage!

Still it is good to see guys who performed well in the club championship getting a run. Castlebar’s Neil Douglas and Alan Feeney were exceptional all year while we’ve seen plenty of Kevin Keane’s ability at full-back. Hard to credit he’s only turned 19.

Looking at those who are picked we can surmise a few things. Of those missing from last year’s panel, travels explain Dillon and Mort the Younger; injuries accounts for Aidan Kilcoyne, Tom Cunniffe Ger Caff and Kenny O’Malley while college commitments explain Seamus O’Shea, Kieran Conroy (who will play against Mayo for NUIG) and Kevin McLoughlin.

That leaves four of last year’s panel unaccounted for. So what to make of the absences of Messrs Nallen, Heaney, Padden and Austin O’Malley? Nalllen and Heaney missing the FBD would be nothing new but we can ask the question – will we see them back? Certainly I do think we have seen the last of James Nallen in a Mayo jersey. Not being used last year in championship games against Galway and Meath when Mayo were crying out for his experience may well have made his mind up for him. A pity. A truly wonderful servant.

Will David Heaney give it another go? Your guess is as good as mine. Like Nallen, Heaney owes us nothing. And he did impress at midfield against Roscommon and Galway before being overrun against Meath. If he is coming back, I would hope that he is brought back much sooner than last year when himself, Nallen and Aidan Higgins only returned after the NFL.

And so to Messrs Padden and O’Malley. While I have said that it would make sense to ‘rest’ players whom we know what are capable of, John O’Mahony doesn’t seem to have this attitude so it would be wrong, in my opinion, to reckon these two lads have been rested.

Personally I reckon Billy Joe Padden may be retiring from the inter-county scene. Recently married, living in Newry and working and Kildare, something will have to give and, unfortunately, football would appear to be the most expendable.

Austy could be another matter. Struggling to make the Vincent’s team, could his inter-county days be at an end? We can only speculate for now, time will tell us how close we are.

Sunday in Garrymore is the venue for the near annual opener at this stage with NUIG (throw-in 2pm) but keep an ear tuned to Mid West because I can’t imagine this one going ahead if conditions are still as cold then as they are now.

Anyway the Mayo panel is as follows: Goalkeepers: David Clarke (Ballina), Robert Hennelly (Breaffy).

Defenders: Liam O’Malley (Burrishoole), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Peadar Gardiner (Crossmolina), Trevor Howley (Knockmore), Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen), Alan Feeney (Castlebar), Shane Nally (Garrymore), Lee Keegan (Westport), Kevin Keane (Westport).

Midfielders: Ronan McGarrity (Ballina), Tom Parsons (Charlestown), Barry Kelly (Ballaghaderreen), Pat Harte (Ballina).

Forwards: Trevor Mortimer (Shrule/Glencorrib), Mark Ronaldson (Shrule/Glencorrib), Mikey Sweeney (Kiltane), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Neil Douglas (Castlebar), Ger McDonagh (Castlebar), Barry Moran (Castlebar), Jimmy Killeen (Garrymore), Kevin Walsh (Shrule/Glencorrib).


7 Responses to “The light didn’t go out, it just dimmed”

  1. 1 diehard January 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Good to see you back! I thought for a while there that the light had actually gone out.
    Keep her lit!

    • 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout January 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Good to be back diehard. no fear of the light going out, just a winter recess! Roll on 2010 and whatever it may bring

  2. 3 Willie Joe January 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Great to see you back in action, TIALTNGO. All we need now is a bit of a thaw so the football can get going too!

    • 4 thereisalightthatnevergoesout January 8, 2010 at 12:39 am

      Good to be back WJ. I don’t have your stamina for the winter! We could be waiting for the thaw. James Nallen might be 40 by the time another ball is kicked!

  3. 5 RogerMilla January 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Welcome back TIALTNGO, look forward to all your future blogs

  4. 6 ontheroad January 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I echo my fellow bloggers comments, glad to see you back, its like an old football squad coming together. Mind you I was tempted to have a go at lights gone out etc.

    • 7 thereisalightthatnevergoesout January 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      Cheers Roger, I hope to be blogging twice weekly now, at least.
      On the road the lights out joke was one I left myself wide open for!

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