AUSSIE RULES Niamh Kelly has been unable to commit to Mayo for the upcoming championship due to her Australian Rules commitments for next season. Pic: Sportsfile
MAYO’S hopes of winning a first All-Ireland Ladies senior championship title since 2003 have been dealt a big blow with the news that they will be without at least seven members of last year’s squad due to other commitments and injuries.
Michael Moyles’ side begin their 2022 championship campaign next Sunday with a Connacht Final clash against Galway at Tuam Stadium — the first provincial decider to be played since 2019.
However, the Mayo boss confirmed last weekend that he was planning for the championship this summer without Sarah Rowe, Niamh Kelly, Grace Kelly and Aileen Gilroy due to their Australian Rules commitments for next season — which begins in August.
Dayna Finn and Fiona Doherty have also committed themselves to the Ireland basketball squad and Sligo Rovers women’s teams respectively for the time being.
“The way the season is gone in the AFL, their season is changed,” Moyles explained.
“They are probably under contract in June, so they could get pulled back for pre-season in July.
“We had to get confirmation that if they were coming in [to the Mayo squad], they were going to be in for the championship, or else it’s broken up. We have to concentrate on what we have for the championship, and they couldn’t commit to July,” he added.
“It’s three of the starting forwards from last year. That’s just the nature of the beast I suppose. “The AFL have kind of changed their season and the girls had to make a decision, and it hasn’t been an easy decision, they’ve worked really hard to try and make it work.
“But we’ve set standards for ourselves that there’s a minimum requirement and we need anybody that’s coming in to be here for the whole championship, and that hasn’t happened.
“Basketball is Dayna’s first sport,” continued Moyles when asked about Dayna Finn’s situation. “There’s two championship games that clash with her Irish training, so it has to be kind of across the board.
“It has to be across the board. Dayna made herself available. It’d be great if, maybe in the future, it will work out, but just at the moment it’s not.
“So we’ll just move forward. We’re very lucky. We’ve bought in four Minor girls that are of a very high skill set and have transitioned very well so I’m very happy with that.”
On a more positive note, Moyles confirmed that All Star attacker Rachel Kearns, who played with Geelong in the AFLW last season, has committed to Mayo for the upcoming championship.
However, Clodagh and Ciara McManamon have also been ruled out of action for the foreseeable future due to injuries.
As a result of these absentees, Mayo’s panel features a whole host of new names.
“We have Sorcha McCarney coming in from the Westport club as well, she was playing wing-back [for the Mayo minors] on Monday. We had Jenna Mortimer who was playing centre-back, and we had Ciara Nyland who was playing midfield, four girls that are well capable of playing senior football. It’s their first inroads to senior football,” said Michael Moyles.
“They haven’t looked out of place in training so far. That’s what we have to do. We have to build for the future. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have girls that are eligible to play for me because of different sports, but we just have to concentrate on what we have.”
L Wallace (Burrishoole), D Caldwell, K Sullivan (Castlebar Mitchels), F McHale (Carnacon), T O’Connor (Cill Chomáín), E Ronayne, C Nyland (Davitts), A Tarpey (Foxrock/Cabinteely), L Brennan, J Mortimer, A Keane, N Hession (Hollymount), C Whyte (Kilmoremoy), S Cafferky, L Cafferky (Kilmovee Shamrocks), S Mulvihill, S Howley, H Reape, R Flynn, N McVann (Knockmore), R Kearns, S Walsh (MacHale Rovers), C Needham, T Needham (Louisburgh), A McDonnell (St Brigid’s), A Geraghty, S El Massry, S Lally, S McCarney (Westport).