Looking for the extra edge

Management continuously search for the edge when preparing teams. And because they do, there will always be a variety of opportunists offering their services in the hope of cashing in on the back of a successful outfit. I have fallen into the trap myself, when I got a call from a ‘friend’ championing the quality of a sports psychologist. He came so highly recommended that I couldn’t wait to unleash him on the football squad. I recall sitting back at the rear of the room with a few fellow selectors. Within minutes we realised we had a dud on our hands. Out of respect we allowed him to complete his gig that particular time, but cancelled the remaining five sessions that were supposed to complete the package. My message to unsuspecting managers is to be careful of the articulate incompetent.

Training for the Mayo squad began in earnest last Friday night with what I heard was a very good workout in the form of a challenge match against Donegal. Challenge games present an ideal opportunity to experiment a little and also to rotate the team selection to keep everyone happy by rewarding commitment with a much needed start in a match. Donal Vaughan has been one of the real success stories of this year’s league campaign. I believe he is a very dedicated, disciplined person to train and those that have watched him over the last six months will recognise that he has got considerably bigger and stronger. He lined out at centre half back and was having a fine game until he picked up a very nasty mouth injury just before half time. Tom Cunniffe is also returning from injury and is another who could fill that berth. He appears to be back to fitness and will hopefully be a serious contender in a couple of weeks time. Another to catch the eye was the towering Barry Moran, lining out in the full forward position. He has been out injured for months so it was good for him to flag his undoubted ability with an impressive performance. I believe he ended up with a tally of 1-4 which is impressive by any standards. I watched him play for the Mitchels in their narrow one point defeat to Breaffy two weeks ago and I was hugely impressed with his display, albeit he didn’t feature in the first half of that game due to some ‘niggle’. If he manages to stay injury free, and that’s a big if, as he is incredibly unlucky with injuries over the last few years, he will present Aidan O’Shea with a serious challenge for the full forward berth.

Peadar Gardiner got in 30 minutes of football after his injury. While I realise it’s very frustrating to be laid up through injury, I personally feel Peadar will be much fresher for the championship as a result of his lay off. He will be the first to admit though that he will also have to bust his gut to make a starting place on the team. All in all, I am beginning to see a few ‘green shoots’ in the Mayo camp and I believe the Mayo boys will be chomping at the bit come June 5.

This Saturday Mayo entertain Cavan in a match that will mark the official opening of the Belmullet GAA club’s new development. It is mightily impressive I believe, and I expect a sizeable crowd to travel to a part of the county that is such a good place to visit.

Crossmolina played Tuam Stars in a challenge match last Sunday morning. We availed of the opportunity to play under the new rules. They come into effect this coming weekend and I am sure they will create a certain amount of debate for a few weeks. I particularly welcome the penalty being taken from the 11-metre line. All kick-outs to be taken from the 13- metre line is a good move too. The rule that created the most annoyance last weekend was the hand pass. There must be a definite underhand striking action on the ball. It is difficult to police this rule as it is with so many of our playing rules, as the referee will have to be right up with the action in order to adjudicate.

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