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Eight new Mayo players to watch

Sport
Mayo’s talent search begins next weekend


Eight players will get their big chances this month

Feature
Mike Finnerty

THE DEFENDERS

Alan Feeney
SEASONED watchers of the Mayo club football scene were nothing but impressed by the consistently-excellent performances of the Mitchels’ full-back in 2009.
The 24 years-old went from strength to strength as the season progressed and his selection on The Mayo News Club Stars team was as deserved as it was predictable.
After winning an All-Ireland U-21 medal with Mayo in 2006 (as an unused substitute), Feeney took some time out to go travelling but is enjoying his football again now.
It will take some time for him to get to grips with the pace and physicality of county football but he definitely has something to offer.

Shane Nally
JUST sixteen months after captaining the Mayo Minors to within seconds of an All-Ireland title win, the Garrymore half-back gets his chance with the county seniors.
Nally forced his way into the FBD League squad after a series of impressive performances in recent trial matches and, without doubt, has the potential to make the NFL cut.
After captaining St Colman’s, Claremorris to the Connacht Colleges Senior ‘A’ championship last April, Nally is now a First Year student at NUI, Galway.
He has slotted into their talented ‘Freshers’ football team at centre-half back and the rough and tumble of the third-level circuit will also stand him in good stead this month.

Kevin Keane
THE gradual apprenticeship of the Westport full-back continued impressively last year as a string of eye-catching performances with club and county pushed him onto John O’Mahony’s radar.
Keane’s strength, reading of the game, and willingness to attack the ball was a feature of his displays with the Mayo U-21 team last Spring. It was also a major feature of his high-season outings with Westport as he helped his club to the Intermediate championship crown.
The quietly-spoken Fahy teenager is now a student at IT Sligo and, with Ger Cafferkey injured, should get plenty of chances to impress.

Lee Keegan
FOR those Mayo supporters wondering where all the physical, combative defenders in the county have gone, let me introduce Lee Keegan.
The Westport centre-back has carved out quite a reputation for himself in the last few years with Rice College, the Mayo U-21s, and his club’s Intermediate team. In short, he is tough, hard, very comfortable on the ball, and loves to get up the field.
Keegan has taken a year out of his studies and will be concentrating on the Mayo U-21s and other Gaelic football commitments in 2010.

THE MIDFIELDER

Ger McDonagh
ANOTHER of the 2008 Mayo minor team to make this initial cut, the Castlebar Mitchels midfielder can also operate as a wing-forward and his size, strength, and ball-winning ability is just what Team Mayo need.
McDonagh will have learnt an awful lot from working with Messrs Ford and O’Malley in Castlebar over the last two years, and is sure to be central to Ray Dempsey’s U-21 plans this Spring.
However, there is also a vacancy for an aggressive, athletic, no-nonsense midfielder in the senior squad this season and if the NUI, Galway second year student hits the ground running, he could be on board for the NFL.
THE FORWARDS

Neil Douglas
THE Castlebar Mitchels inside forward was a dead cert to get his chance in the FBD League squad after lighting up the Mayo club championship last season.
The diminuitive attacker used his pace and eye for a score to rack up 2-23 during Castlebar’s run to the semi-finals and the NUI, Galway student looked the part all Summer.
Without a doubt, Douglas’ development has also been accelerated by the work of Peter Ford and Tommy O’Malley on the McHale Park training ground. If he can make the step-up to senior inter-county football, he has the potential to make a difference.

Jimmy Killeen
ONE of the most consistent club forwards in the county over the last ten years has forced his way into the early season reckoning again after putting in a good shift with Garrymore last season.
The left-footed attacker is built for speed but has learnt to cope with the ‘rough stuff’ on the club football circuit and did enough in the recent trial matches to earn another crack at the county scene.
The 28 years-old CBE employee won a Mayo News Club Star award last November and is in this squad on merit.

Kevin Walsh
IT wasn’t quite the ‘Prodigal Son’ returning but when the former Mayo Minor came home from the US last Summer, there was no shortage of happy Shrule/Glencorrib supporters.
Affectionately known as ‘The Yank’, Walsh has completed his soccer scholarships in America and is staying in South Mayo for the foreseeable future. That could be very good news for Mayo.
The 26 years-old is a dynamic, ball-winning half-forward with a very direct style and a refreshing ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude. It will take him a little time to get to grips with the pace of inter-county football but he could be the diamond in the rough.