The whirlwind nature of Mayo’s start to the GAA season continues on Sunday when Mayo take on Roscommon in Ballinlough at 2pm in their third game in ten days in the competition. A win for Mayo would send them into the competitions final which has been slated for Sunday week January 22 against the winners of the other group currently being led by Leitrim with two wins from two games and a draw against Sligo on Sunday would be enough to send last years FBD winners back into the final.
Last weekend gave James Horan a chance to have a look over a number of new faces in the green and red and he gave eight players their first outing for the county. Brendan Walsh who was sub-keeper for a lot of last summer got a start against IT Sligo, with David Drake, John Reilly, Adam Gallagher, Diarmuid O’Connor, Tom King, Seán Kelly and Stephen Coen all seeing game time over the two games with Drake starting both. In total Horan gave 21 different players a start in the two games a win over NUIG and a draw with IT Sligo in Bekan on a day that tested the determination of many a Mayo follower with the weather conditions. He also gave four other players game time from the bench over the two games. While the debutantes garnered a lot of attention there was also a return to Mayo football for Eoin O’Reilly, Mikey Sweeney, Brian Gallagher, Keith Rogers and Brendan Harrison, the latter two starting both games at corner back and wing back respectively.
Mayo picked up three black cards over the course of the weekend, with Seán Kelly going down in the history books as the first Mayo player to pick-one up only eight minutes after making his debut after coming on against NUIG last Friday night. Kevin McLoughlin and Kevin Keane picked up one in either half of last Sunday’s game against IT Sligo.
Mayo’s opponents on Sunday followed up their 1-14 all draw with IT Sligo with a comprehensive 2-13 to 1-5 win over NUIG last Sunday afternoon. The Rossies were in impressive form in that win leading by 0-11 to 1-0 at the break and were leading 0-10 to 0-0 not long after the 20 minute mark. Cathal Cregg bagged himself 1-4 over the hour with Senan Kilbride chipping in with three points and Conor Devaney adding the second Roscommon goal.
James Horan will be looking to see an upswing on the scoring return following Mayo’s second half performance against IT Sligo last Sunday, when the only time they hit the target in the entire half and for 37 minutes in total was when Alan Freeman’s 58th minute penalty hit the back of the net. Horan gave ten different forwards a start over the two games last weekend with only Cathal Freeman and Darren Coen holding down the number 11 and 14 shirts respectively. Diarmuid O’Connor, Adam Gallagher, Tom King and Mike Sweeney all started on the first outing, with Seán Kelly, Cathal Carolan, Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran starting against IT Sligo. Other Mayo attackers to get some game time were Michael Conroy who came on in both games, but had to come off not long after his introduction last Sunday, Jason Doherty, Enda Varley and Alan Freeman.
U21s round off Hastings Cup tomorrow
Niall Heffernan’s Mayo u21 side will round off their interest in the group section of the Hastings Cup when they host Offaly in the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan tomorrow at 2pm. Last weekend Mayo went down to a superior Cavan side by seven points in the same venue to follow up their victory over Longford the previous week. Heffernan made eight changes to his side from the previous week last Saturday and tomorrows game will offer him the opportunity to have a look at some more of his 40 strong panel, before cutting it down to championship size.