Stephen Rochford made his first big statement as Mayo manager wielding the axe and cutting nine players from his panel. Michael Conroy being the most high profile of these. Mickey C as he is effectively known gave a great service to the Mayo jersey but has been blighted by injury of late. His last major contribution for Mayo was scoring four points against Kerry in last year's National league game in Killarney after coming on for the injured Evan Regan, Conroy also picked up an injury up the same day.
Conroy will have to adapt to not doing something he has been accustomed to for the best part of 10 years of his life, going to Mayo training and preparing for big Mayo games. It is not an easy process to adapt to I can tell you, and players from all over the country struggle to face the reality that they are no longer county players, but Mayo's loss is most certainly Davitts' gain as he can fully concentrate on club duties. I realise there has been more than Conroy let go from the squad but he has been part of the set up for so long he deserves special mention. It will be strange not to see his name in the match day programme, and I have no doubt he will be missed in the dressing room.
Cillian O'Connor has been handed the honour of captaining Mayo for 2016 which must be a very proud achievement for him. Stephen Rochford had used different captains for the league but has ultimately decided on O'Connor. He will most certainly want to do his talking on the field, he will be a very popular choice among team-mates and supporters. Apart from his accuracy and unnerving coolness under pressure he is the most aggressive forward tackler in the country and will certainly lead from the front. Best of luck to him.
Scary starts and the scary Dubs
The championship got under way in the Big Apple while we were still basking in U21 glory and sprang to life almost immediately, or near death if you are a Roscommon fan. Roscommon are lucky to be still in the Connacht Championship after getting the scare of their lives in Gaelic Park, winning by a single point scored at the end by Senan Kilbride. This is the team that had the whole country talking after beating Kerry, Cork, and Donegal in division one of the league and were fancied by most to relieve Mayo of the Nestor Cup. On this evidence they will have to wait a little longer.
After round five of the national league, things looked very rosy for the Rossies, sitting pretty in second place of division one, and people questioned Stephen Rochford's appointment, Roscommon were flying and Mayo were in relegation trouble. What had we done in letting Kevin McStay join one of our Connacht rivals we wondered? Seven weeks later things have gone a full 360 degrees. Mayo are in a very good place right now and Roscommon are not. Roscommon lost their last three games of the league taking a hiding from Kerry in the semi-final. Add to this our U21s coming back from the dead against them in the Connacht final and then going on to All-Ireland glory, it must surely have had them reeling. We thought it could not get any worse for them after losing to Sligo and Fermanagh last year, winning in New York by a point must surely have felt as bad as any of those defeats. Kevin McStay and crew have a lot of work to do to get them up to par with Mayo. Do not write them off however.
Going back to the National league final between Dublin and Kerry, I am sure like the rest of you, I wondered what is the point. It seems the rest of us right now are playing for second place. It is the first time I felt deflated and worried about the future of football after watching Dublin dismantle Kerry. Dublin are in serious shape and I cannot imagine Kerry will fancy going toe to toe with them later in the year should they meet in a semi-final. The abundance of riches they possess is unrivalled. They brought on players of the calibre of Michael Fitzsimons, Michael Darragh McCauley, Kevin McMenamon and Cian Costello to drive them on for the last 15 minutes when Kerry tired. This is a team that has lost last year's player of the year Jack McCaffrey, and last year's All-Star full back Rory O'Carroll, and Alan Brogan through retirement, yet you would not even notice their absence such is the abundance of talent they have. Also missing from their league final squad was Paddy Andrews and Eoghan O'Gara, you are dealing with a serious panel of players and I have no doubt McCaffrey and O' Carroll will return next year to give them another injection of competition for places. Watch this space.