Almost as soon as it began the group stages of the FBD League will wrap up this weekend. For Mayo the competition so far can be given good grades. Two wins out of two, a number of new players given their introduction to the inter-county game and a place in the final of the competition against NUIG to look forward to in a week’s time.
Last Sunday’s win over GMIT in Ballinrobe saw manager James Horan make a number of changes from the side that lined up for Mayo’s opening day game against Leitrim the previous Sunday in Ballyhaunis.
In came Michael Walsh, Conor O’Shea, and Evan Regan for their first starts for the county, while back into the side came Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, and Conor Mortimer for their first starts of the year.
The headlines were of course not so much stolen as demanded by Danny Kirby following his four goal haul inside eight first half minutes.
However despite dominating the game and winning at a canter manager James Horan was disappointed after the game with his side’s performance in the second half in particular. But he did note that his side got off to a good start for the second game in a row, something that Mayo struggled to do last year in a number of games.
This Sunday’s final group game against Roscommon offers Horan a chance to shuffle the deck again in preparation for the national league which will throw in for 2012 in a fortnight’s time.
The players who have been given a chance to impress during the FBD so far and looking to nail down a place come the league opener away to Laois include the likes of Barry Moran, who has impressed in the middle of the park. Westport’s Lee Keegan also has been in good form, and looked more comfortable at wing back last Sunday as opposed to corner back where he lined out against Leitrim. Conor Mortimer cemented his return to Mayo colours with six points last Sunday, that is eight points the Parnell’s man has now scored in less than a game and half for Mayo since his second half return against Leitrim. Mayo supporters will also have been boosted by the sight of Andy Moran taking part in the warm up ahead of the clash. While Moran was not named in the squad for the game, the Ballaghaderreen man’s recovery from the broken leg he picked up in training for the international rules series last autumn. Other players yet to feature this year include the likes of last year’s Young Player of the Year Cillian O’Connor, Alan Freeman, Jason Doherty, Aidan O’Shea, Robert Hennelly (who picked up an injury playing for DCU recently ), and last year’s captain Alan Dillon, though Dillon was named on the bench for last Sunday’s game.