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5 Mayo players to watch

Sport

ON THE BALL Rory Byrne is pictured in action for Castlebar Mitchels. Pic: Sportsfile

Feature

Mike Finnerty

Rory Byrne

Castlebar Mitchels

WITH just two goalkeepers currently part of James Horan’s plans, Byrne must be in with a good chance of making his league debut in the coming weeks.
The 28 year-old’s last competitive game for Mayo was in the the 2017 FBD League but, with David Clarke retired, he is now battling it out with Rob Hennelly for the number one jersey.
Byrne was in the Mayo squad last season but didn’t get any minutes.
He was Clarke’s understudy for the Connacht SFC win over Leitrim last November but was unable to break into the 26 again subsequently.

Jack Coyne
Ballyhaunis
IT’S always easy to tell when James Horan is genuinely excited about an up and coming young footballer and, judging by his comments back in March, he is a big fan of last year’s Mayo Under-20 captain.
“Jack was pushing for a lot of last year and we’d be really excited about his potential,” Horan remarked. Enough said.
Coyne has lined out at corner-back with Ballyhaunis for the last two seasons and, by all accounts, has bulked up considerably during Mayo’s pre-season training.
With Chris Barrett and Keith Higgins both retired, there will be full-back line spots up for grabs.

Conor O’Shea
Breaffy
THE youngest of the Breaffy brothers was rewarded for another excellent club championship campaign last year by getting the call from James Horan to join his extended squad back in January.
O’Shea (28), who was given his league debut by Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly back in 2015, and came off the bench in both the 2016 and 2017 All-Ireland Finals, hasn’t played for Mayo since he came on as a sub’ against Galway in the 2019 FBD League.
So the talented midfielder-half-forward is getting another opportunity to nail down a place in a Mayo squad that is being rebuilt by a manager he has never played under before.
If he can find his best form, he would be a big addition.

Mark Moran
Westport
NOBODY will forget the 20-year-old’s league debut against Galway last October when he scored 1-2 and left Tuam Stadium with the man of the match award.
Moran was outstanding that day and showed the sort of quality that was a big feature of his underage and schools’ careers with Westport and Rice College respectively.
Two league starts and two Connacht championship appearances off the bench last Autumn have given the half-forward a solid start to his senior inter-county career, but it will be interesting to see if he can push on now over the next few months.

Frank Irwin
Ballina Stephenites
A SON of former Mayo goalkeeper, Gabriel Irwin, the powerfully-built midfielder/forward lined out at number 11 for the Mayo Under-20s last spring.
That came just a few weeks after he was reported to have impressed Australian Rules scouts at the AFL ‘Combine’ in Dublin — all while still at secondary school!
Known for his accuracy from dead balls and frees, Irwin came off the bench for the Stephenites in the senior club championship on a number of occasions last year.
The Leaving Cert student lined out in the Mayo Minor ‘A’ football final just seven months ago but is now set to make his senior debut in the coming weeks.

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