Mayo fit and ready to go ahead of Yeats challenge

Ready for action: Noel Connelly said that Mayo are fighting fit and ready for the Sligo challenge. Photo: Sportsfile

Ready for action: Noel Connelly said that Mayo are fighting fit and ready for the Sligo challenge. Photo: Sportsfile

Diarmuid O'Connor is the only potential doubt for Mayo ahead of their Connacht Senior Football Championship final against Sligo next weekend, but joint Mayo manager Noel Connelly expects the Ballintubber man to get over his fractured wrist in time for the game. Connelly said this week: "Diarmuid O'Connor has a slight hairline fracture on his wrist, he's a x-ray during the week, but all the indications are that he's fine and will be fit to play. But he hasn't been playing contact football with us since the Connacht semi-final, and he hasn't played for Ballintubber in either of the club championship games, but we're hoping to have him this weekend. If not, if the doctors say to be better not to chance him for the [training] game on Sunday we won't, but we're still hoping to have him for selection the next weekend."

Diarmiud's brother Cillian has been on a special training programme to help him deal with a knee-injury but it is working well in making sure the marquee forward is available for selection, according to Connelly. "Cillian is on a programme that we don't train him as hard as maybe everybody else, it's just to mind the knee tendon injury that he has and that it doesn't flare up again. He's doing well, but we want to be a bit cautious at the same time we don't over do him, and he's always there for selection because he's a vital cog in the wheel. He played 40 minutes and probably wanted to play more, but we took him out after 10 minutes of the second half just as a precaution. It's an injury that seems to be very difficult to shake off and one that seems to be coming a bit more common than we'd like, but we just take care with it."

It's more or less the first time this season that Mayo have had everybody training with both Evan Regan and Michael Conroy playing with their clubs last weekend rather than in a challenge game Mayo had, the reasoning for that was "we felt we needed to give everybody time in the challenge game, and we felt it would be more beneficial to get the full 60 minutes, that's why they were released to their clubs," said the former Mayo captain. Other players who had injury worries, including Alan Dillon, David Clarke, and Andy Moran, are all back to full fitness and there are hard calls to make he added, saying: "It's going to be difficult next week to pick the 15 and then the 26, there'll be a lot of players who'll be disappointed, that's the joys of it."

Solan staying with Mayo

With the news this week of Mayo strength and conditioning coach Barry Solan taking up a post with Arsenal, the Ballagderreen man will be staying involved with Mayo this year and into the future Connelly said. "Barry has confirmed to us that he'll be with us as long as we're with Mayo. He's told us during the week he'll be with Mayo as long as we're in charge. We always knew he'd a great reputation wherever he went, we were delighted that he accepted our invitation. He was with Laois last year and when he got the opportunity to work with his native county he took it with both arms, he's enjoyed his time with us and he is doing a great job, and I'll be very confident he'll be with us for the remainder of the year and the next couple of years while we're in charge. He's at every training session, looks after the guys in Dublin and any time there are field sessions here in Castlebar he's down here all the time."

Mayo in the Hyde tonight

Mayo will train in Roscommon this evening to familiarise themselves with the pitch, Connelly said, and while they do not mind the venue, it was not their first choice, he added. "We're in the Hyde on Friday night, to familiarise ourselves with it. We'd have preferred here if it was acceptable to Sligo, it wasn't, at the outset we thought it was Galway, we'd have had no problems with that, it's a bigger pitch a wider pitch, it can hold a bigger crowd. The venue's picked, it wasn't our choice, it's between Connacht Council and Sligo and that's the venue and we move on. It wouldn't be our first choice."

No interest in u21 job

While it was reported this week that the senior management duo had no interest in taking on a dual role next year, Connelly said that it was not put to them, but even if it was they would not be interested in the role. He also added that he thought they were very fair in their dealings with this year's u21 management despite some criticism on the matter. He said: "I heard that was in the paper also and it never even came on the table, and I don't think that will be happening to be fair." As for the selection of the new u21 management, he said "That's down to the county board, while we feel we were fair, there were a few comments saying we weren't so fair with the u21 management, we think we were. Coming from being u21 managers ourselves, we know the difficulties in trying to get all your players all the time, but at the time we were involved we had to realise the senior team came first, and if we didn't need u21 players on our senior set up we would release them to the u21 set up, we couldn't be much fairer than that. But we have no input or say or have not been asked for the u21 job."

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