With time ticking down to next Sunday’s Connacht semi-final against Roscommon in McHale Park, James Horan and his managment team took the chance of last Monday’s challenge game with Cavan in James Stephens Park to run the rule over a number of fringe contenders for a place in next Sunday’s side. Kenneth O’Malley in goal with Kevin Keane, Shane McHale, and James Burke were all given chances to impress in the defence, while Jason Gibbons put in a good shift, especially in the second half while partnering Aidan O’Shea in midfield. In attack Richie Feeney stepped into the number 11 shirt vacated by Cillian O’Connor because of his shoulder injury, while Darren Coen started at corner forward with Andy Moran in the other. The Ballaghaderreen man got some good game time under his belt in his battle to get back to full match fitness as soon as possible.
There was no return to action on Monday for either Barry Moran or Jason Doherty who have been out of action since the first round of the Mayo senior football league and the end of the national league respectively. Both Alan Dillon and Ger Cafferkey sat out the game, but there was return to action for Ballina’s Evan Regan who came on as a second half substitute after picking up an injury in a club game.
With O’Connor and Michael Conroy out of action until at the very least the All Ireland quarter-finals should Mayo make it that far, the run out gave James Horan the chance to give a run out to the contenders for a place in the side for next Sunday. Kevin McLoughlin and Cathal Carolan will be expected to make up two-thirds of the half-foward line against Roscommon. Whether Horan decides to bring Alan Dillon into that line, or add in some physicality to the line in the shape of Richie Feeney who performed very well last Monday in that spot, to go with a game winning performance at full forward for his club side Castlebar Mitchels a fortnight ago, in the club championship remains to be seen. Andy Moran bagged himself two goals on Monday and got a good run out in the full forward line, but there is still a big step up from a challenge game to championship football. There is no doubt that the Ballaghaderreen man is chomping at the bit to get back into the side, and will not let anyone down should he get picked for the Connacht semi-final, but it is a welcome headache for Horan to have when it comes time to pick his team. One possible bolter from the bench could be Ardnaree native and Ballymun Kickhams man James Burke who put in an assured display at wing back. Burke came back into the panel after his club’s All Ireland final defeat on St Patrick’s Day and showed plenty of quality on Monday in Ballina.
Junior championship rolls into round two
The second round of the Breaffy House Hotel Mayo junior championship will throw-in this weekend following last weekend’s first round of games. In group one Crossmolina Deel Rovers and Ardagh picked up wins last weekend over Hollymount-Carramore and Claremorris, the third game in the group between Ballina Stephenites and Cill Chomain was not played. In group two Shrule-Glencorrib top the table on points difference from both Louisburgh and Castlebar Mitchels which both also picked up wins, with Balla, Ballycroy, and Lacken all looking to pick up their first points this weekend. Lahardane sit on top of group three after the first round following a big win over Kilmeena, with Ballaghaderreen and Charlestown Sarsfields also picking up two points from their first round games, with Eastern Gaels, Moygownagh, and Kilmeena pointless at present. In group four Ballintubber, Knockmore, and Ardnaree, which will be hoping that this year is finally their year, all picked up wins in round one last weekend, with Kilmovee Shamrocks, Kilfian, and Ballycastle going down in their outings. Full details of this weekend’s fixtures can be found in the GAA fixtures listing.