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Double boost for Mayo ladies

Sport

BACK IN THE FOLD Rachel Kearns has returned from Australia. Pic: Sportsfile

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Oisín McGovern

FORMER Mayo captain Sarah Tierney and All Star forward Rachel Kearns have both rejoined the county senior squad ahead of their National League opener against Cork next Sunday.
The news comes as a major boost to Mayo manager Michael Moyles, who has also added Charlestown’s star forward Deirdre Doherty and Burrishoole defender Clodagh McManamon to his panel.
Moyles’ charges head into Sunday’s meeting at the Connacht GAA COE in Bekan with some injury concerns, including the aforementioned Doherty and McManamon.
Last year’s vice-captain Saoirse Lally remains sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained against Cavan last year.
Cill Chomáin attacker Tamara O’Connor (back) and Westport’s Aoife Geraghty (finger) will also be out of action next weekend, while 18-year-old Sinéad Walsh is still recovering from a knee injury she received in the ‘Play For Emma’ charity game last month.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Michael Moyles said that Kilmoremoy’s Ciara White is not currently involved due to study commitments while goalkeeper Aisling Tarpey has made herself unavailable for the league.
Burrishoole forward Maria Cannon has been called up to the panel along with Aghamore’s Saoirse Delaney and Knockmore duo Ciara Durkan and Emily Reape.
Moyles’ backroom team remains unchanged apart from selector Collette Collins, who has stepped down due to work commitments.
Last year’s beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists are currently working with a panel of 31 players — in addition to a 12-woman development squad.
“We’re trying to bring that youth and energy in as well. It’s a constant thing,” Moyles explained.
“We said it from day one, it’s a revolving door. Girls come in and they’ll get their chance and if it doesn’t work out then other girls are pushing in and that’s what the development panel is about.
“We’ve 95 percent of our panel from last year and we’ve a small bit of experience back which is great, it’s productive and it’s going in the right direction.”
The Crossmolina native said that Mayo’s opening three league games against Cork, Kerry and Waterford presented ‘a fairly tough’ challenge.
This year’s LGFA National League has reverted back to an eight-team format instead of the previous four-team divisions.
“If you look at Cork and Dublin over the last 12 years, they share the majority of All-Irelands between them. Cork is never an easy starting point,” Moyles said.
“Cork, Kerry and Waterford are our first three games and the three of them put major emphasis on the league. Kerry, especially, are back very early training very hard, we have Waterford down in Waterford which is going to be very difficult.
“Usually the league is very, very tight. You’ve got the four All-Ireland semi-finalists then you’ve got the likes of Cork, Galway, Dublin. But that’s inter-county football.”
Moyles said that Mayo needed to play with greater flexibility to push beyond the semi-finals of national competitions.
“If you look at the last three years it’s semi-finals consistently, and we’re looking to push beyond that, not in the league as such but we’re going to have to learn to play a different way.
“Cork last year would have been a very good result for us. Not many people would have seen it in the quarter-final, but then Kerry played a different way, and we weren’t able to deal with it.”
Moyles also welcomed a recent motion by Mayo LGFA to increase the maximum numbers on underage panels to 40 players.
“For development purposes alone, the more girls we can keep around and help being around county teams, if they are getting a higher level of training then great,” he added.

 

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