Mayo will entertain Roscommon in their final FBD League game of the season in Ballyhaunis on Sunday. Gollowing on from last weekend’s comprehensive win over a poor Sligo IT side John O’Mahony will be hoping that his side can wrap up their warm up to the league with a second win on the bounce.
While scoring 2-20 last weekend looked good for the headlines, O’Mahony knows that the weakness of the opposition greatly added to that comprehensive victory for his side. “It was a strange game all right, I was pleased to see some of the rustiness that we showed against NUIG being got rid of, but all the same Sligo IT didn’t put up much of an opposition for us the last day.”
After the opening round of the competition O’Mahony was unsure about the implementation of the new rules which saw a number of players from both sides sent to the line over the 60 minutes. Last weekend Mayo halved the number of players to get an early bath to only one, with Aidan Kilcoyne picking up a yellow early on in the second half. While five Sligo IT players were sent to the line a couple were born out of frustration of the hammering they were getting in terrible weather conditions. “It’s funny that the first day we had two men sent to the line and last week it was only the one. Maybe the players are getting more used to the rules and the referees them also as well. But we also had two players who picked up broken noses last weekend [Mickey Mullins playing for Mayo and Conor Mortimer for DCU]. Some challenges are still slipping through, but as I said from the start we will have to see how things go in the league and pick it up from there.”
Due to the loss of a number of players to college sides the length and breadth of the country, O’Mahony is still playing from a smaller deck of players than he’d like but, there’s not much he can do about it and he has news of some returns for Sunday’s fixture. “Well it could be a smaller squad to pick from on Sunday, both Andy Moran and Peadar Gardiner are unavailable this weekend, but we will have Alan Dillion back for Sunday. Trevor Mortimer is also back in training with us, he trained Tuesday and he’ll be with us again before the game so we should also have him with us on Sunday.
Mayo made a trip to Sligo last Friday night also before the FBD game where they took on Kevin Walsh’s senior intercounty side in a challenge game, which Mayo won. While some may question the decision for playing two games in such a short space of time, O’Mahony had very valid reasons for arranging it. “With the lads being tied to their colleges at this stage of the year and the league not that very far away, we have a very limited time frame to look at the squad as a whole. It was important for us to see what ideas we had and how we can put them into use and also for the players who haven’t been back with the squad yet to give them a chance to blend back into the fold.”
Roscommon are next on the card for Mayo and despite O’Mahony not having seen them in action he expects a much tougher examination than was given by Sligo IT. “I haven’t seen them, but I do know that they have been training hard for the past while. You’d expect that with Fergal O’Donnell only taking over for the first time this season. But no disrespect to the colleges, when counties meet on the field no matter how early in the season it is, you expect the intensity to pick up a couple of notches and we should see that on Sunday.”
April start for leagues
While the inter-county game has been back up and running for the past two weeks, it will be nearly four months before the club players in Mayo get in on the action. The weekend of April 4/5 has been pencilled in as the start date, though these still have to be officially confirmed by the county board on January 20. The leagues will be starting a full month later than they did last year due to Mayo being in action four times in the month of March in the National League.
Hurlers lose out
The Mayo hurlers lost out in their opening game of the season away to DCU in the Keogh Cup by 1-13 to 0-9. Alan Stenson and Derek McConn scored 0-3 each, while Paul Broderick chipped in with two points and Stephen Broderick landed the other Mayo point.