The freezing conditions that have beset the country have seen the cancellation of the first round of games in the Connacht FBD League this weekend. The Connacht council announced the decision on Wednesday saying: “Due to hazardous driving conditions and having checked the weather forecast for the weekend Connacht GAA Council has postponed the start of the FBD Insurance League until Sunday January 17.” Mayo were scheduled to open their FBD League campaign with a tie in Garrymore against the students from NUIG on Sunday, but all the ties have now been put back a week due to the snow and ice. Mayo will now start their campaign on Sunday week, and follow it up with a game at home to Sligo IT on Sunday January 24 in Charlestown, and wrap up the league stages on Sunday January 31 in Ballinlough against Roscommon. The home final for the league has been pencilled in for either Saturday February 20 or Sunday February 28, and the final against New York on Sunday October 10.
John O’Mahony has picked a 26 man panel for the FBD league with a number of old faces not included for a variety of reasons. The two big name omissions from the side who are not tied up with third level institutions, injured, away, or given a break from the panel as in the last few years are Billy Joe Padden and Austin O’Malley. Both men have been mainstays of the panel under O’Mahony in recent years and his predecessors Mickey Moran and John Maughan. Both O’Malley and Padden are based outside the county in Dublin and Down respectively and their omission will lead to plenty of debate about their futures in the Mayo set up for 2010.
While O’Malley and Padden’s exclusion from the squad may cause surprise, there are a number of players who are left out due to injury. Ger Cafferkey (broken bone in the hand ), Aidan Kilcoyne (broken collar bone ), Tom Cunniffe (long term groin problem ), and Kenneth O’Malley (recuperating from a shoulder operation ) are on the sick list. Both Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer are out of the country travelling, while both Enda Varley and Seamus O’Shea are involved in the McGrath Cup with University of Limerick. Jason Doherty and Kieran Conroy are with Mayo’s first opponents NUIG, Knockmore’s Kevin McLoughlin will be with DIT in O’Byrne Cup action. As was the situation last year, veterans David Heaney and James Nallen were not included in the panel.
There are eight new players for O’Mahony and his brains trust to run the rule over in the provincial competition ahead of the start of the national football league. Following good performances for their clubs, and in a number of pre-Christmas trial games, they are Castlebar trio Alan Feeney who impressed at full back for the Mitchels last year, minor star from 2008 Ger McDonnagh, and u21 hot shot Neil Douglas. The Garrymore pair of Jimmy Killeen and the 2008 minor captain Shane Nally have also been included. Westport will also have two men looking to impress, Kevin Keane who lined out as the minor full back in 2008 and also collected a Connacht u21 medal in the same position last year, and the impressive Lee Keegan. Also being given the chance to impress is Shrule Glencorrib’s rangy midfielder Kevin Walsh. With freshers not being allowed to play Sigerson Cup football this year, John O’Mahony was able to call on the services of a number of third level freshers players including Breaffy’s Aidan O’Shea who made a big impact in his first year in the senior ranks last season. The Breaffy attacker who returned from an AFL trial before Christmas is currently studying in DIT.
Mayo squad for the FBD League
Goalkeepers: David Clarke, Robert Hennelly.
Defenders: Liam O’Malley, Keith Higgins, Donal Vaughan, Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Chris Barrett, Andy Moran, Alan Feeney, Shane Nally, Lee Keegan, Kevin Keane.
Midfielders: Ronan McGarrity, Tom Parsons, Barry Kelly, Pat Harte
Forwards: Trevor Mortimer, Mark Ronaldson, Mikey Sweeney, Aidan O’Shea, Neil Douglas, Ger McDonnagh, Barry Moran, Jimmy Killeen, Kevin Walsh.
Minor job to be decided on Monday
The selection of the man to take over from Ray Dempsey as the Mayo minor manager will be decided next Monday evening. The four applicants were put through their paces by a six man interview board before Christmas and the first County Board meeting of the New Year. The four applicants for the job were Tony Duffy, Donal Tuohy, Padraic Walsh, and George Golden. The vacant post was created by Ray Dempsey moving up to the u21 job following the departure of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly following four very successful years in the role.
Hurlers start off with third level challenge
The Mayo senior hurlers will be once again competing in the Kehoe Cup competition in Leinster as they warm up for their National Hurling League campaign. The side will once again be under the guidance of Martin Brennan and Pete Finnerty, despite both having initially stated their intention to step down. The hurlers will open with a trip to Carlow IT on January 24 in the first round of the competition, if they overcome that they will face a quarter final against either Roscommon or Wicklow, while if they go down in their first game they will go into the shield competition where they will play the loser of the Roscommon and Wicklow tie.