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5 Mayo ‘prospects’ for 2023


UPWARDLY MOBILE Frank Irwin is pictured in action for Mayo during his National League debut against Armagh last year. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

Jack Coyne

ANYBODY who watched the 22 year-old in action for Ballyhaunis in the Mayo Intermediate championship last season will know exactly why he’s been recalled to the county senior squad by Kevin McStay.
After being called up James Horan back in 2020, Coyne made his one and only competitive appearance as a substitute against Leitrim in the 2021 Connacht championship.
He was also on the bench for the All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin later that summer, but failed to make the cut for last season’s National League or championship.
Now he’s back, after a string of superb displays for his club (mainly at centre-half back) on their way to a county title.
His ball-carrying and line-breaking, not to mention his scoring ability, would seem to make Coyne an ideal fit for a Mayo half-back line. But McStay et al may have him in mind for a corner-back spot, where he lined out against Sligo recently.

Did you know? Jack also played in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship with Ballyhaunis last season.

David McBrien

THE sight of the fit-again full-back charging upfield for Mayo against Sligo earlier this month will have come as a huge relief to all those who believe that McBrien has what it takes to be the next Mayo number three.
The young defender was dogged by a serious quad injury for much of the last two seasons, but a good club championship campaign with Ballagh’ suggests he may have turned the corner.
It’s almost 27 months since the-then 20 year old made his National League debut against Galway on the day Mayo beat the Tribesmen by fifteen points.
Ironically, McBrien’s debut ended prematurely after he picked up a knock and due to that aforementioned quad problem he’s only played for Mayo twice since — in the National League last season against Tyrone and Kildare.
With Oisin Mullin in Australia and Lee Keegan’s future uncertain, the window of opportunity is open for Ballaghaderreen defender, assuming he can stay injury-free.

Did you know? David spent the summer in Chicago, rehabbing from injury and assisting with training the McBride’s football squad.

Conor McStay
Ballina Stephenites

THIS time last year an ankle injury put pay to McStay’s chances of getting an opportunity to impress James Horan.
The 24 year-old had been called up after impressing with the Stephenites’ in the 2021 club championship, but the closest he got to making an appearance was sitting on the bench for the National League hammering by Kerry.
McStay started against Sligo a few weeks ago and scored 1-2 against a very accommodating defence. He also lined out in the full-forwardline in the FBD Final and hit 0-1.
His movement and ability to bring other players into the game are among his best assets.
With Ballina last season, the elusive attacker was used by Niall Heffernan as an inside forward and as a roving playmaker.
That versatility may prove invaluable in the weeks and months ahead.

Did you know? Conor scored 1-7 in the Mayo club championship last season.

Paul Towey

WILL this be the year that the talented forward finally makes his mark?
It may surprise some of you to learn that Towey has played 10 times for Mayo over the last three seasons, including two fleeting championship appearances against Sligo (2021) and Kerry (in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final).
Tellingly, he was used as a substitute on eight occasions by James Horan who didn’t seem entirely convinced by what the Charlestown man might bring to the table.
But a string of impressive displays in the club championship last autumn, which followed on from some eye-catching performances in Chicago during the summer, showed what Towey is capable of on his day.
He started against Galway recently and hit a few nice scores.
Time will tell if he can replicate that form at the highest level.

Did you know? Paul was the second highest-scorer in the Mayo SFC last season. He hit 1-23, a tally only bettered by Ballina Stephenites’ Evan Regan with 4-18.

Frank Irwin
Ballina Stephenites

AFTER two brief National League appearances last season — including an injury-interrupted debut against Armagh — there are a lot of Mayo supporters hoping to see much more of Irwin in the coming months.
A son of former Mayo goalkeeper, Gabriel Irwin, who won an All Star in 1989, the 20 year-old was outstanding during Ballina Stephenites’ run to last year’s County Senior Final.
Operating mainly around the middle of the field, he racked up 2-17 and showed just why he’s so highly-regarded.
A Mayo Under-20 for three seasons (2020-2022), there’s no doubt that we have only seen flashes of his ability. Finding his best position, and getting him up to speed for senior inter-county football in such a condensed season, will be one of the hard parts in 2023.
He has been sidelined recently with a hamstring injury.

Did you know? Frank is a second year student in University of Limerick, studying Criminal Justice.

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