Sat, Jan
22 New Articles

5 debutants who caught our eye


Mike Finnerty

Donnacha McHugh

Castlebar Mitchels
THE young Mitchels defender wore the number two shirt on his first start and put in a solid shift under the bright lights of the Air Dome.
McHugh lined out in the half-back line in last year’s Connacht Under-20 final defeat to Roscommon, and went on to play in the full-back line for the Mitchels’ seniors during last season’s club championship.
Last Friday evening he got his chance to measure himself against the likes of nippy Galway corner-forward Dessie Conneely, and showed that he will be a key man for the Mayo Under-20s again this season.

Sam Callinan
Ballina Stephenites
THE St Muredach’s College secondary school student justified the excitement around his inclusion in the Mayo squad with an assured display at left-corner back.
The 18 year-old showed he’s more suited to the half-back line (where he plays with Ballina Stephenites) with a number of powerful, line-breaking runs into the Galway half.
One of them ended with a wonderful point for Callinan in the opening minutes, after he showed the pace and power that are his trademarks, before firing over confidently on the run.
The 2020 Mayo minor midfielder played with confidence until he was replaced in the closing minutes. He will be back in action for his school next week.

Frank Irwin
Ballina Stephenites
THE powerfully-built 19 year-old didn’t look out of place once in the Mayo half-forward line and capped a fine evening’s work with a well-taken point.
A son of former All Star goalkeeper, Gabriel Irwin, Frank will be playing Under-20 football for Mayo for the third season in a row in 2022.
It was easy to see at times last Friday evening too how he attracted the attention of Australian Rules scouts at the AFL ‘Combine’ in Dublin — while still at secondary school at St Muredach’s.
Irwin looks like he has the physique and skills to feature at this level for some time.

Ruairi Keane
Mayo Gaels
THE dynamic defender played for around the last 25 minutes and didn’t take long to get stuck in and pull his weight.
Keane is a really good footballer and his form for the Gaels at centre-back was so good last season that James Horan and company couldn’t ignore him.
He will also be a key man in Maurice Sheridan’s plans for the upcoming Connacht Under-20 championship, but could well have made his National League debut by then.
There’s a great ‘cut’ to the former Balla SS  student and he seems cut from the same cloth as so many of Mayo’s tough-tackling, flying half-backs of recent years.

Paddy Heneghan
Castlebar Mitchels
BY all accounts the Mayo management were very taken by Heneghan’s display in the ‘combine’ trials before Christmas so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him named in the squad last Friday evening.
The Mitchels half-forward is very much in the mould of a ‘James Horan player’ — a hard worker with a big engine who can link play and kick a score.
The Mayo Under-20 panellist was introduced at half-time and looked composed in possession, got around the field, and played his usual game.
Heneghan has been a stand-out player all through his Mitchels, St Gerald’s and Mayo underage career so was this a natural progression really.


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