Tony Duffy will be hoping that his stint in charge of the Mayo u21s is a bit more successful than the last man who sat in his seat, after moving up from three years in charge of the minor team. Duffy has taken over the side this year from Ray Dempsey, the same man he replaced at the u18 grade three seasons previously. Picking up u21 provincial titles was par for the course for Mayo under the Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes joint ticket in the latter part of the last decade, but for the past three seasons Mayo have not even reached a provincial final, being sent packing by Roscommon in each of the past three championships before the final.
Tomorrow afternoon at 4pm in the Tuam Stadium, where so many Mayo sides could not pick up a win for love nor money for most of the latter part of the last century, Mayo’s u21 season will get under way. Galway got their championship campaign opened up last weekend with a 1-20 to 0-7 win over Sligo in the same venue. Alan Flynn’s side kicked a impressive 1-18 from play with Shane Wash and Gary Kelly each contributing five points apiece to their side’s total, with Sean Moran chipping in with the goal. Galway took an early lead, with Sligo coming back at them following the goal. But Galway managed to score all but one of the last 13 scores in the game to run out easy winners at the end.
For Mayo the return to action of Cillian O’Connor to the senior side last Saturday against Kildare was welcome news. The double young footballer of the year has been out of action since injuring his shoulder in a club game last October. The Ballintubber man has been pencilled in to captain the side by Duffy for the year. Evan Regan who made his first National League start for the senior side last weekend is another key man in the Mayo attack, as is Hollymount-Carramore’s Darren Coen. Mayo also have plenty of big men to call on for tomorrow’s game with Conor O’Shea and Danny Kirby leading that department for the green and red, while at the back Niall Freeman, Conor Walsh, Brendan Harrison will be expected to be key men and Paul Mannion who has been involved with the senior set up over the past year will provide solidity between the posts.