THE close season officially began for the Mayo senior football squad at the beginning of the month but James Horan concluded the first phase of his preparations last Saturday morning with a second, and final, trial match in Clogher.
None of the 29 club players who lined out was part of Mayo’s senior championship squad last season but all concerned will be hoping that they did enough to force their way into Horan’s plans for at least the FBD Connacht League in the New Year.
Under the watchful eyes of the new manager, and his selectors James Nallen and Paul Jordan, a Mayo ‘whites’ selection beat a ‘greens’ outfit by 2-14 to 0-11 after a match of four fifteen-minute quarters.
Among those who accepted the invitation to ‘try out’ were former Mayo defender, David Kilcullen, from Ballaghaderreen. He played most of the game at full-back before moving to centre-back during the third quarter.
Shrule/Glencorrib corner-back Dermot Geraghty, who played in the 2004 All-Ireland final, also lined out as did Swinford’s Aidan Campbell, who last played for the county in the 2008 All-Ireland Qualifier against Tyrone.
Before the game the new Mayo manager told the assembled players he was looking for qualities like ‘work-rate’, ‘technical ability’, ‘desire’ and the ability to ‘play as part of a team’.
There was no shortage of honest endeavour and industry from all those involved but it remains to be seen who did enough to earn a Mayo strength and conditioning programme for the months ahead.
Crossmolina’s Brian Benson and Tourmakeady’s Kevin Dolan scored the goals for the winners while Burrishoole’s Jason Doherty landed five points and looked sharp at corner-forward.
Former Louisburgh forward, Austin O’Malley, was the pick of the ‘greens’ attacking unit and posted six points from centre-forward. Knockmore’s Damien Munnelly and Peter Cosgrave from The Neale also had their moments.
James Horan and his players won’t be seen together on the playing fields of the county again until January 1, while their first Connacht League match is pencilled in for Sunday, January 9 against Leitrim in Ballinamore.
Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Ronan Rochford (Crossmolina), Dermot Geraghty (Shrule/Glencorrib); Donal Newcombe (Castlebar Mitchels), Eoin Reilly (Castlebar), James Burke (Ballymun Kickhams); Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), Dermot O’Connor (Westport); Aidan Campbell (Swinford), Sean Kelly (Crossmolina), Simon Cloherty (Parke); Kevin Dolan (Tourmakeady), Brian Benson (Crossmolina), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole).
Alvin McCallig (Claremorris); Richie Feeney (Castlebar), David Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen), Colm English (Achill); Alan Egan (Bonniconlon), Michael Nestor (Ballintubber), Ruaidhrí O’Connor (Ballintubber); James Moran (Burrishoole), Ray McGreal (Ballinrobe); Jimmy Killeen (Garrymore), Austin O’Malley (St Vincent’s), Peter Cosgrave (The Neale); Damien Munnelly (Knockmore), Lewis Cawley (Westport).
Subs used: David Killeen (Ballinrobe) for Feeney (inj).
Referee: D Harrington (Tourmakeady)