The mark has come into being in gaelic football for the foreseeable future this year. What was a mark and what wasn't a mark was the topic of some discussion in the press box on Sunday. With two minutes gone referee Barry Judge giving what looked to have been a mark in error or a very soft free to Danny Kirby, but nobody was sure at the back of the stand in MacHale Park. After the game Mayo manager Stephen Rochford said that time will have to be given to it but he said “I did think at times and this isn't a refereeing issue, but just the blowing of the whistle sometimes stopped lads in midplay and they were wondering was there a free or whatever, but that is probably a sense of getting used to it and the rules are there and we just have to play by them. It's probably a case of just getting used to them.”
One for the record books?
Apart from the first time a Mayo side ever played competitive football, it's hard to believe that eleven players started their first ever inter-county game together on the same side and six more made their debut from the bench. But with the vast bulk of the Mayo senior squad out on holiday in South Africa that's exactly what happened. When was the last time this happend? Answers on a postcard to us here if you know.
Fergal Boland was one of Mayo's new faces. Photo: Sportsfile
The West Mayo dozen
Of the starting 15 for Mayo on Sunday, 12 of the players came from West Mayo clubs, with county senior champions Castlebar Mitchels having seven of those, Rory Byrne, Ray O'Malley, Donie Newcombe, Eoghan O'Reilly, Danny Kirby, Cian Costello and Neil Douglas. The three players who started that weren't from West Mayo were Shane Nally (Garrymore ), Fergal Boland (Aghamore ) and Brian Reape (Moy Davitts )
Gallagher shines against Mayo
Mayo Gaels clubman Adam Gallagher showed that he should be probably be given another look come the National League hitting nine points during the game, with four of them coming from play along with some top class long range free taking from the former Mayo U21 captain.
Hurting their own: Mayo Gaels man Adam Gallagher and Stephen Brennan from Claremorris were part of the NUIG team. Photo: Sportsfile
Players coming back
Come the end of the FBD League and the start of the real business of the year in the National Football League, Stephen Rochford expects to be picking from more or less a full deck he said after the game. Both Lee Keegan and Kevin Keane are involved with Westport in the All Ireland Intermediate Championship club semi-final on Sunday, January 29 and depending on that result will determine their involvement for the first round of the league the following week. All Star defender Brendan Harrision is expected to miss at least the first two rounds of the league after having an operation, while Ger Cafferkey is still on a return to play protocol and it could be late February or early March before he's back in action, with Alan Dillon whose on honeymoon also probably out for the first league game.
Question time: Stephen Rochford speaks to the press after the game. Photo: Sportsfile
The majority of the Mayo senior squad from last year are on a team holiday in South Africa at present and will be returning later this week. While the players are relaxing and enjoying themselves out there, they are also putting in some hard work on the training field with Conor Finn from the Mayo strength and conditioning team also on the trip and as of Sunday, he'd put them through two pitch and two gym sessions, Stephen Rochford said after the NUIG game.
No quenching the thirst of supporters
With it being well flagged in advance that this would be a Mayo side that would have never played together, it didn't keep the faithful away from the game with 2,346 paying in at the gate. It seems that Mayo peoples thirst for football shows no sign of being quenched any time soon. Next weekend in Ballina, expect more of the same when Mayo take on IT Sligo in round two of the FBD League.