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McDonald steps into senior role


THE RETURN OF THE MAC One of Mayo’s most celebrated footballers, Ciaran McDonald, is joining James Horan’s coaching team. Pic: Conor McKeown

Mike Finnerty

THE news that Ciarán McDonald is to join James Horan’s backroom team next season certainly caught most Mayo football supporters on the hop when it broke last Sunday afternoon.
McDonald and Horan played together for a few seasons back in the late 1990s and the announcement certainly caused quite a stir on social media, in particular.
McDonald had been linked with a place in Horan’s coaching team 12 months ago but it never came to pass, the Crossmolina man instead remaining with the Mayo Under-15 squad that he coaches as part of the Mayo GAA Academy.
However, the Academy’s loss in 2020 will now be the Mayo senior squad’s gain as the former All Star centre-forward will be able to give the benefit of his considerable experience and expertise to young Mayo attackers like Tommy Conroy, Gary Boylan, James Carr, Ryan O’Donoghue, Paul Towey and Jordan Flynn.
There’s no doubt that McDonald’s arrival could also teach ‘old dogs’ like Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor a few new tricks.
We were fascinated to hear a while back that ‘McD’ loves nothing more on a Saturday morning at MacHale Park than to join in during an Under-15 practice match, and ping a few of those legendary left-footed passes around the field like the old days.
Rumour has it he can still drill a point from distance too, and while he may be 44 years-old now he still looks like a man who could do a shift in the full-forwardline if he was needed!
You certainly couldn’t bet against him rocking into his old stomping ground at centre-forward some night at Mayo training to see how Lee Keegan or his old team-mates Keith Higgins or Colm Boyle are going. . .
And don’t rule out him selling one of the famous ‘McD dummies’ to some young unsuspecting defender before cracking a shot into the top corner past the despairing dive of a David Clarke or Rob Hennelly. .
McDonald joins a Mayo ‘support team’ that includes James Burke (described by James Horan recently as ‘head coach’), Martin Barrett, Martin Lally and Martin McIntyre.
Whether or not Horan decides to add any other coaches/selectors to this group remains to be seen, but with only a month remaining to the start of the FBD League, all eyes will be on the artist formerly known as ‘McD’ when Mayo take on Galway on Sunday, January 12 in Castlebar.
On a related note, another piece of news that was hard to miss last weekend was about Oisin Mullin from Kilmaine and Matthew Ruane from Breaffy attending an Australian Rules ‘combine’ trial in Dublin.
Both members of the Mayo senior squad, by all accounts both made a big impression on the AFL scouts with Mullin, in particular, also posting some impressive numbers in terms of his speed and agility. One or both of them could yet be on a plane to Australia next Autumn.
Watch this space.


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