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Fresh start for O’Mahony’s Mayo

Fresh start for O’Mahony as new season throws in

Mayo’s FBD League panel has plenty of talking-points

Mike Finnerty

AFTER running the rule over almost fifty club footballers in three trial matches in recent weeks, Mayo manager John O’Mahony has named a 26-man squad for the FBD League which begins next Sunday.
Approximately thirteen of last year’s squad were unavailable for selection, including injured quartet Kenneth O’Malley (recovering from a shoulder operation), Ger Cafferkey (broken bone in his hand), Tom Cunniffe (groin problem) and Aidan Kilcoyne (broken collar-bone).
College commitments have ruled five players out of the January fixtures: Seamus O’Shea and Enda Varley (University of Limerick), Kieran Conroy and Jason Doherty (NUI, Galway) and Kevin McLoughlin (DIT) while Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer are currently in Australia.
Billy Joe Padden, Austin O’Malley, James Nallen and David Heaney were not considered by Mayo’s management team for this month’s fixtures against NUI, Galway, IT Sligo and Roscommon.
Among the new faces getting their chance ahead of the start of the National League are Garrymore duo Shane Nally and Jimmy Killeen, Castlebar Mitchels’ trio Alan Feeney, Ger McDonagh and Neil Douglas, Westport’s Kevin Keane and Lee Keegan, and Shrule/Glencorrib’s Kevin Walsh.
However, it is the injury updates on a number of first-team regulars that will be of most concern ahead of Mayo’s NFL date with Galway on February 6.
“Kenneth O’Malley has had an operation on his shoulder but is bursting a gut to get back,“ the Mayo manager told The Mayo News. “He’s working very hard and is probably ahead of schedule.
“Ger Cafferkey broke a bone in his hand when he slipped and fell on some ice during Christmas,” he added. “And it looks like Aidan Kilcoyne will miss the early part of the National League. His arm is in a sling at the moment but he has an appointment with his specialist today (Monday) and we’ll know more then. He had his operation six weeks ago so is on the road to recovery.”
The prognosis is not so clear-cut on Tom Cunniffe. The Castlebar defender hasn’t played with Mayo since lining out against Tyrone nine months ago. He also missed the Mitchels’ entire club championship campaign last season due to a Gilmore’s groin injury and is currently in college in Liverpool.
“Tom has made a reasonable recovery,” said John O’Mahony. “He didn’t need an operation on his injury but has been resting for nine months now. He’s played no football in that time though so we’ll be monitoring him closely.”
Meanwhile, the inter-county futures of James Nallen, David Heaney, Billy Joe Padden and Austin O’Malley remain uncertain.
As expected, long-serving duo Nallen and Heaney were not included in the panel for the FBD League but the absence of Padden and O’Malley suggests that they are mulling over a return to the Mayo colours for 2010. They are based in Down and Dublin respectively and had to be content with cameo appearances off the substitute’s bench last year.
“I haven’t forced the issue with any of those lads,” explained the Mayo boss. “January is a time for experimentation anyway.”