We are officially up and running now, with the championship opening in 16 days on another continent all that we were waiting for was the 30 names who would make up the championship panel for 2009. When the list was announced on Sunday evening there were no major surprises as John O’Mahony and his backroom team set out their stall for the summer. As was widely expected James Nallen, Keith Higgins, David Heany, and Trevor Howley were all included in the panel despite none of them taking part in the league campaign. In total 22 of those picked for last year’s squad at the same stage of the year were selected again this year, with the likes of Colm Boyle, James Gill, and Michael Mullins all not making the cut this time around. While the veterans Nallen and Heany were included Aidan Higgins, whom many thought might have got the nod, was not selected despite lining out in a recent challenge match against Offaly in Castlebar.
With the New York trip coming up very soon, the captain for the season will also be announced in the very near future. Ronan McGarrity carried on his duties as team captain during the league after leading the side in last year’s championship campaign and will be among the favourites to lead the side again this season.
Who, what, and where
If you break down the squad selection Mayo have picked two goalkeepers for the season with Kenneth O’Malley coming into the squad after missing last year’s championship due to a serious injury, alongside David Clarke. In defence there have been 11 nominal defenders selected, Crossmolina duo Peadar Gardiner and James Nallen, Swinford’s David Heany, Knockmore pair Trevor Howley and Kevin McLoughlin, west Mayo duo Liam O’Malley and Tom Cunniffe, Ballinrobe’s Donal Vaughan, dual star Keith Higgins, and Chris Barrett from Belmullet who missed out on last year’s championship due to injury, and Ballina full back Ger Cafferkey. This defensive rank can also be supplemented by the likes of Kieran Conroy, Billy Joe Padden, and Andy Moran who would normally be defenders and have lined out for Mayo in both championship and league action in the past.
The five midfielders picked for the squad are probably starting duo for the championship Tom Parsons and Ronan McGarrity, Ballina’s Pat Harte, Seamus O’Shea from Breaffy, and Kieran Conroy. While Conroy can line out in defence as he has done this year already in the league and last year in the championship, and Harte is equally adapt at playing wing forward, Mayo have plenty of options in midfield with Barry Moran an All Ireland u21 winner in this position also offering an option if needed during the summer.
Up front Breaffy teenager Aidan O’Shea has been rewarded for his showings in both the league and u21 championship with his place in the panel. Elsewhere Shrule brothers Conor and Trevor Mortimer are both picked, though Conor will miss out on the trip to New York as he recovers from a hand injury picked up in Mayo’s last league game, while Shrule-Glencorrib is represented by Mark Ronaldson. All Star Alan Dillon along with Ballaghaderreen duo Barry Kelly and Andy Moran has made the cut, while as mentioned previously Moran could be in line for a defensive berth having lined out at wing back in the last five league games. Also getting the nod are St Vincent’s man Austin O’Malley and Kiltane’s Mikey Sweeney. The final name to make the cut is Mr Versatility Billy Joe Padden, the Belmullet man has lined out in every out field line since he started playing for Mayo.
Some students not to make the NY trip
It has also emerged that a number of third level students will not be able to make the trip to New York because of exam commitments. UL students Kenneth O’Malley and Seamus O’Shea along with UCD student Mark Ronaldson will not be getting on the plane. Aidan O’Shea will not be leaving until the day after the main party take off on Thursday May 7, and the group will be completed when Kieran Conroy and Tom Cunniffe arrive on the morning of Saturday May 9.
Goalkeepers: David Clarke, Kenneth O’Malley.
Defenders: Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett, Tom Cunniffe, Peadar Gardiner, David Heaney, Keith Higgins, Trevor Howley, James Nallen, Liam O’Malley, Donal Vaughan, Kevin McLoughlin.
Midfielders: Ronan McGarrity, Tom Parsons, Pat Harte, Seamus O’Shea, Kieran Conroy.
Forwards: Alan Dillon, Conor Mortimer, Austin O’Malley, Mark Ronaldson, Michael Sweeney, Billy Joe Padden, Barry Moran, Andy Moran, Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Kelly, Aidan O’Shea, Trevor Mortimer.