TOUGH CALLS Mayo manager James Horan is pictured with selector Martin Barrett. Pic: Sportsfile
MAYO manager James Horan has spoken about his decision to release six players from the squad ahead of the start of the Connacht Championship in New York on Sunday week next.
Experienced duo Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber) and Conor O’Shea (Breaffy), along with Cathal Horan (Kilmovee), James Kelly and Ryan O’Donoghue (both Belmullet) and Colm Moran (Westport) were all released in the wake of Mayo’s National League win over Kerry.
Colm Moran was the only one of the group to start a match during the league campaign, against Cavan, while Jason Gibbons came on against Monaghan.
None of the others saw any game-time during Mayo’s eight-game run to the title.
Speaking to The Mayo News Football Podcast at Tuesday’s Connacht GAA championship launch, Horan was keen to point out that ‘the bottom end of the panel is always open’.
Both Shairoze Akram (Ballaghaderreen) and Mikey Murray (Ballina Stephenites) were added to Mayo’s ‘extended panel’ last week after impressing in recent club matches.
Westport pair Ben Doyle and Oisín McLaughlin, along with Kiltimagh goalkeeper, Micheál Schlingermann, are also part of this ‘extended panel’ which will work alongside Mayo’s main championship squad.
“I suppose there are certain things we’re always looking for, looking to achieve at every training,” said Horan. “And some of those guys might be good at certain things, and there are other areas that they can look at and improve on.
“If guys look at that, and are doing well with their clubs, the bottom end of the panel is always open, and guys doing well with their clubs will get an opportunity.
“We’ve Michael Murray brought in from his performance [for Ballina] against Castlebar in the championship, so there is opportunity there.
“When guys are released, it’s very tough for them, but they can turn it around and use it as motivation for themselves to try and develop further.
“So hopefully we’ll see some of those guys again.”
Horan also suggested that Mayo’s clash with New York ‘might be too soon’ for both Cillian O’Connor and Seamie O’Shea, who are currently rehabilitating from injuries.
O’Connor played for around 15 minutes in Ballintubber’s club championship win over Hollymount/Carramore on Saturday week last, scoring two points, but O’Shea hasn’t played competitively for club or county in two months after suffering a setback to his ankle injury in training recently.
The Breaffy midfielder is also getting married this coming weekend.
“Probably New York might be too soon for them, but we'll see. We'll see how the next few sessions go” remarked the Mayo manager, who also had some positive news on Tom Parsons, who started running in training recently.
May 13 next marks twelve months since th Charlestown midfielder suffered a serious knee injury against Galway.
“Yeah, he's back running for a few weeks,” confirmed Horan.
“Tom is a huge character around the place and is working incredibly hard to get back and it's progressing very well. The medical team are very happy with how he's going. It's hard with an injury like that with exact timings. He's making great progress.
“We're monitoring him very closely.”
You can hear James Horan's exclusive interview in full on The Mayo News Football Podcast next week