SCOUTING FOR TALENT Mayo joint managers Noel Connelly, left, and Pat Holmes are pictured watching the Mayo SFC semi-finals at MacHale Park, Castlebar back in September.?Pic: Sportsfile
New era begins on home ground
A NEW era for Mayo’s flagship senior football team begins next Sunday afternoon in the familiar surrounds of MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Just over three months after being ratified as joint managers of the Mayo senior football team, Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly will oversee their first competitive assignment when the students of NUI, Galway come to visit for the opening round of the FBD Connacht League.
The Mayo News understands that the new management team ran the rule over many of the new names and faces in their extended training squad in two trial matches last weekend.
With more than 50 players currently on the management’s ‘long list’, the process of trimming the panel down to a more manageable figure before the start of the National League in February begins in earnest on Sunday.
That process, rather than setting out to win the pre-season competition, is the main priority for Messrs Connelly, Holmes and selector Micheál Collins in the weeks ahead.
“The priority is to get us up to speed for the start of the National League against Kerry in Killarney on February 1,” Pat Holmes told The Mayo News.
“The most important thing for us in relation to the FBD League is to have a look at guys, to try and get some players’ fitness levels up, and to see where fellas are at.
“A lot of the core panel are only coming in after Christmas so the priority is to have them ready for the National League. The FBD League will be about looking at as many options as possible.”
IT Sligo have released Evan Regan to line out with Mayo in the FBD League competition but Micheál Forde from Ballycastle (who has been taking part in Mayo’s strength and conditioning training programme in recent months) has been retained by the college. James Shaughnessy (Claremorris) is also a member of the IT Sligo squad.
NUI, Galway, who are managed by former Galway county star Tommy Joyce, will be able to call on the services of Richie Feeney for Sunday’s game.
The Castlebar Mitchels and Mayo panellist has returned to NUIG this year to continue his studies, and has received a GAA scholarship.
Kiltimagh’s Eoghan Lavin (a former Mayo minor and under 21) is also part of NUI, Galway’s squad this season while Breaffy’s Conor O’Shea is still unavailable for selection due to a serious ankle injury.
Other key men in the college’s panel are Galway footballers Damien Comer and Adrian Varley and Roscommon duo John McManus and David Murray.
FBD Connacht League
Mayo v NUI, Galway
Sunday, January 4
Castlebar at 2pm