Mayo more than likely will be missing the services of experienced Ballina goalkeeper David Clarke for next weekend’s Connacht senior football championship semi-final against Roscommon. The shot-stopper pulled up injured during the first half of last Friday night’s challenge game with Louth in Garrymore and had to be replaced by Kenneth O'Malley. Clarke's groin injury will see the Ballinrobe 21-year-old in line for a recall to the senior side after picking up a potentially career ending kidney injury 18 months ago in a Higher Education League game.
Clarke, who has been a mainstay between the Mayo posts for the last number of years, will be a major loss, but O'Malley is a top class replacement for the Galway based garda who kept six clean sheets in his last six competitive games for Mayo.
Mayo manager John O'Mahony speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week, acknowledged that if Clarke misses the game he will be a major loss, but he has no doubts about O'Malley's ability between the posts if needed. “David picked up a bad groin injury last Friday night, it's one of those things that happen. We'll be assessing him very closely over the next week, but we have Kenneth who is a top class goalkeeper also and will come into the side. We are lucky that we have a keeper of such experience and class on standby.”
O'Malley was the man between the posts for Mayo when they won the under 21 All Ireland Football Championship in 2006 and if he plays it will cap a remarkable recovery for the young Ballinrobe man whose football career looked to be hanging in the balance after he was injured not long ago.
With O'Malley looking to move up from the bench, O'Mahony will have to bring in a new face to the panel for the Roscommon game and that man will be Robert Hennelly. The 19-year-old Breaffy keeper hit the headlines last year with a number of stunning displays for Ray Dempsey's Mayo minor side who went as far as an replay in the All-Ireland final and with this year’s under 21 inter-county side which reached the All Ireland final. “Robert Hennelly will be next in line for the place. He played a few games with us in the FBD League and was in the panel during the National League. He also was in great form last year for the minors, and the under 21s this year,” said O'Mahony.
In other injury news Mayo have a fairly clean bill of health apart from Tom Cunniffe, according to O'Mahony. “We're looking pretty well apart from Tom Cunniffe, his injury is a lot longer term than we thought at the start, but everyone else is moving OK.”
Brennan steps down
Good to his word, Martin Brennan stepped down as manager of the Mayo senior hurling side following his side’s 4-21 to 0-14 defeat to Down in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final last weekend. The Westport native, who has been in charge of the side for three years and previously spent another year as a selector, will leave the Mayo senior hurling set up in rude health after guiding the side to two Christy Ring Cup semi-finals in two years, and will leave a very big pair of shoes to be filled by whoever takes up the task for next season and beyond.