MAKING PLANS Mayo manager James Horan is pictured with selector Ciaran McDonald last season. Pic: Conor McKeown
1 The need to get promoted
AFTER spending more than 20 years in Division 1, getting back there at the first attempt has to be Mayo’s main focus between now and the end of the league.
To do that they will probably need to beat at least two of Down, Meath and Westmeath in order to qualify for the Division 2 semi-finals. A win there and they are back in the top flight.
It’s worth remembering that Cork, Kildare, Clare and Laois are all in Division 2 South so, assuming Mayo make the play-offs, they will have to go through one of them to book their ticket back to Division 1 for 2022.
2 Finding some new recruits
IT’S hard to believe sometimes that young players like Oisin Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin, Tommy Conroy, Ryan O’Donoghue, Jordan Flynn, Bryan Walsh and Mark Moran hadn’t kicked a ball at senior level for Mayo until last season.
The same goes for Paul Towey and David McBrien.
But the rate of development and improvement for the likes of Mullin, McLaughlin, O’Donoghue and Conroy, in particular, has set the bar very high for the next batch of new recruits who will get their chance in the coming weeks.
Reading between the lines, we can expect to see the likes of Rory Brickenden, Jack Coyne, Enda Hession and Jack Carney in action sooner rather than later.
3 Some key men are missing
AS well as the six veterans who retired back in January, James Horan will also be without a few of his most experienced players as the league gets underway.
Brendan Harrison and Jason Doherty are both making progress from their respective knee injuries but it seems highly unlikely that we will see either of them before the championship begins at the end of June.
Then there’s Aidan O’Shea, who is currently resting up after injuring his knee in a training session three weeks ago.
The best-case scenario is that the team captain only misses next Saturday’s match against Down but there’s no guarantee that he will be back in action this month.