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Ronaldson making his Mark again

Sport

READY FOR ACTION Shrule/Glencorrib’s Mark Ronaldson. Pic: James Wright Photography

Interview
Mike Finnerty

“THE way I look at it, if you’re fit and healthy, and you get a call to play for Mayo, then why not?”
That’s how Mark Ronaldson explains his reaction to a call from the Mayo Junior management last week, inviting the Shrule/Glencorrib forward to join their 2017 adventure.
“I love football, I’m fit, and who knows how many years I’ll have left playing football. I might even get some free gear!” he laughed.
Ronaldson’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the game is infectious. It was obvious when he first caught our eye as a precocious underage forward with his club, and it was unmistakable when he won an All-Ireland under 21 medal with Mayo back in 2006.
It also got him through some tough days with both club and county over the years, and it’s one of the main reasons why he’s still going strong.
Ronaldson (30) has never played Junior for Mayo before, but all going well he will make his debut on Friday evening next against Sligo in the Connacht championship semi-final.
After flitting in and out of Mayo senior panels since 2008, he’s looking forward to another new challenge.
“There are no downsides to playing with the Mayo juniors as far as I can see. You get to wear the Mayo jersey, which is always a great honour, and who knows how many times that will happen again?
“I remember coming on against Galway in the senior championship in 2015. That was a magical day for me. A day I’ll never forget. So to get to wear the Mayo jersey again would be great.”
Believe it or not, but Ronaldson never started a senior championship game for Mayo.
He made his championship debut off the bench against Sligo in 2008 and his last appearance was as a substitute against Dublin in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final.
In between he started in the FBD League and the National League for John O’Mahony, James Horan, Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly, and Stephen Rochford.
But none of them gave him a championship start.
You wonder how he reflects on his senior career.
“I’ve given it my all, I really have,” he explained.
“I train hard, very rarely miss trainings, and live my life as well as I can. But I always felt that my size went against me, maybe I was a bit light too. .
“Mayo senior squads were always very competitive, and maybe when push came to shove my size counted against me,” he mused.
“I never started a championship game for Mayo, but because I was light and energetic, coming on when the game had loosened up suited me.
“I tended to play my best football for Mayo in January, February and March, but it’s a long season and I just never got the consistency I needed.
“I really regret never having been involved in a squad for an All-Ireland senior final, but I know I’m lucky in that I have an All-Ireland under 21 medal and three Connacht senior championship medals.”
Ronaldson teaches sixth class children in Ballinasloe these days, has bought a house in Oranmore, and is engaged to his long-term girlfriend, Ruth.
Off the field, life is moving on.
On the field, he’s hoping for another long and successful summer with Shrule/Glencorrib and maybe the Mayo juniors for good measure.
He’s also been watching the Mayo seniors from the wings, his latest involvement with the squad ending after last year’s National League.
He recalls a few ‘niggly injuries’ and training 70 times in four months without playing a single match. It wasn’t his style.
“I just wanted to play ball,” he says. “Training so much for so little game time, so it was massive for me to get games with the club again. Just playing football. I love playing football.”
Same as it ever was.

Fixture

Connacht Junior FC semi-final
Mayo v Sligo
Friday, May 12
Charlestown at 7pm

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