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Mayo’s talent search continues

Sport

Places will be up for grabs in the Mayo senior squad this year

Feature
Mike Finnerty

THIS time last year Mayo were three matches into the National League and had just beaten Meath in a cliffhanger in Navan thanks to a Kevin McLoughlin goal.
But what a difference a year makes!
With no concrete date set in stone just yet for either a return to collective training or the start of the 2021 season, inter-county players have returned to squad meetings via ‘Microsoft Teams’ or ‘Zoom’ and ploughing through their individual programmes in their spare time. Making sure they are ready for action when the call to arms comes.
At this stage most county managers have probably got a fair idea of their ‘provisional’ training panels for the National League, but with no challenge matches or FBD League games to go on, and no white smoke from the Mayo camp, all we can do is speculate.
So with that in mind, we’ve picked out another four club players who we think might be in with a chance of playing some county football in 2021.

Goalkeeper
Colm Reape
Knockmore
THE 25 year-old from the county senior champions couldn’t have done much more to catch James Horan’s eye during Knockmore’s run to the Moclair Cup last Autumn.
Reape conceded one goal in six games (which amounted to more than eight hours of football) and won plenty of admirers with his shot-stopping ability and command of the square.
It was also hard not to be impressed by the range and accuracy of his kick-outs, as he sprayed the ball around with confidence and picked out team-mates with short, medium and long restarts.
The fact that last season was Reape’s first in goal with the Knockmore seniors — he had played in the forwards in previous years — makes his accomplishments even more impressive.
A noted soccer goalkeeper, who has played quite a bit with Conn Rangers FC, Reape was also a forward during his All-Ireland winning Under-21 days with Mayo in 2016.
Defender
Kieran King
Knockmore
THE longer Knockmore’s run went on in last season’s club championship, the better their dynamic half-back seemed to be getting. And the 21 year-old saved his best performances for the latter stages against the likes of Ballina Stephenites and Breaffy, catching the eye with his uncompromising style and ability to drive forward.
King wore number six for Knockmore most days but Ray Dempsey had him filling a variety of roles at different times; man-marking, operating as a ‘plus one’, doing a job as an attacking wing-back, and just generally helping to setting the tone.
A county minor back in 2017 at number four, King was part of the Mayo Under-20 squad in 2019 but didn’t feature in either of their championship games.
He’s come on in leaps and bounds since then though, and is cut from the same sort of cloth as most Knockmore men who have worn the Green and Red of Mayo.

Forward
Colm Moran
Westport
IT’S coming up on four years now since the fresh-faced corner-forward shot four points from play for Westport in their All-Ireland Intermediate club championship final at Croke Park.
At the time Colm Moran was in Leaving Cert, had played Mayo minor the summer before, and was rightly being talked about as a young forward with lots of potential.
He was back at Croker 18 months later as part of the Mayo Under-20 team that lost an All-Ireland Final to Kildare, landing a hat-trick of points from top of the left.
Fast forward to here and Moran remains one of the best attackers in Mayo on his day.
The 22 year-old  was in fine form during Westport’s run to the senior championship semi-finals last Autumn, nailing four points from play against Breaffy on a wet night when they exited the competition.
He also helped himself to six points against The Neale in the quarter-final and raised three white flags against Castlebar Mitchels in the group. Not bad going for a man who was just off the plane from America when the club championship started.
James Horan managed the speedy corner-forward in Westport and gave him his National League debut against Cavan in 2019. Could 2021 be the year when they work together again?
And the year when the Moran brothers line out together in the Mayo attack?

Forward
Ciaran Treacy
Ballina Stephenites
LIKE a lot of other people, last year certainly didn’t go to plan for the exciting young Stephenites forward.
For one reason or another, including some niggling injuries, Treacy wasn’t able to build on his impressive debut season with Mayo.
The 24 year-old’s only appearance before the first lockdown was off the bench against Meath last February, and he was one of a number of players released by James Horan before the inter-county season re-commenced in October.
Unfortunately, things didn’t improve much when the club championship kicked off with Treacy having to be content with the role of ‘impact sub’ for the Stephenites in most games.
However, if the stylish wing-forward can recapture his best form and stay free of injury then he is more than capable of operating at inter-county level.
After all, he made seven championship appearances in 2019 and scored that terrific goal in the National League final win over Kerry at Croke Park.
A teacher based in Dublin, the Ballina forward surely has a lot more to offer.

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