POTENTIAL Breaffy’s Matthew Ruane.
MAYO manager Stephen Rochford has called up five young players for a new ‘development panel’ that will train alongside the county senior championship squad over the coming months.
Four members of last year’s All-Ireland winning under-21 squad have been selected by Rochford for this ‘feeder’ group which will help to prepare players for the demands and rigours of senior inter-county football.
Ballaghaderreen full-back Seamus Cunniffe, Breaffy midfielder Matthew Ruane, Brian Reape of Moy Davitts, and powerful Ardagh forward James Carr have all been handpicked for the development panel.
Mayo Gaels attacker Adam Gallagher (22), who was called up to the Mayo squad during the recent National League campaign, has also been included in this five-man unit.
The quintet will train with Mayo’s championship panel this summer and, while they are all believed to have been selected based on their potential to play senior football in 2018 and beyond, they are also technically available for selection for this year’s championship campaign.
With Mayo operating off a slightly smaller squad this summer than they did for last year’s championship, the addition of these five players in a development panel will also provide cover in the event of injuries.
Seven years ago, as the chairperson of a sub-committee working on proposals for the Mayo GAA Strategic Action Plan, Rochford chaired a ‘think tank’ entitled: ‘Bridging the Gap: Bringing Through our High-potential Players’.
As a result of these proposals, Mayo GAA identified the need for an Academy style system which they launched in late 2013.
The Mayo News understands that Rochford was keen to form a tight-knit senior development panel ahead of this year’s championship in order to help a number of players in their early 20s to adapt to the demands and requirements of senior inter-county football.
MEANWHILE, Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons sat out Charlestown’s second successive Mayo Senior League match last weekend due to a hand injury.
Other Mayo squad members who were absentees for their clubs included Castlebar Mitchels trio Donie Newcombe, Danny Kirby and Barry Moran, Burrishoole’s Jason Doherty, and Aghamore’s Fergal Boland.
Elsewhere, Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor came on after half-time during Ballintubber’s clash with Davitts and scored 1-2.
His brother, Diarmuid, was sent off midway through the second half of that game by referee Kevin Connelly for a stamping offence, and is expected to be hit with a proposed one-match suspension as a result.