NET GAINS Mayo’s Jack Carney reacts after scoring a goal against Roscommon in the National League last Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile
THE Mayo senior football squad will return to training at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan on Wednesday evening safe in the knowledge that they will be playing top-flight league football again next season.
That much was assured after last Sunday’s two-point victory over Roscommon consolidated Mayo’s position at the top of the Division 1 table with two rounds left to play.
A victory over Donegal on Sunday week next could also catapult Mayo into their third National League Final in five seasons, depending on other results, with one round left to play against Monaghan on Sunday, March 26 in Castlebar.
“I felt we had it tidied up a few times but we gave Roscommon opportunities and they took them,” reflected Kevin McStay after seeing his team concede two goals in the closing stages before winning by 1-16 to 2-11.
“Two great goals, I have to say, and that rocked us a bit. I think we regained our composure and played it out in the end. Lots to take from the game.
“I wouldn’t be happy with some aspects of it, but we played through it. I suppose if you are being clinical about it, we came up for two points as a National League fixture and we’re going home with them now. I have to study it, but I suppose we’re safe now,” he mused.
McStay has now used 28 players in the first five rounds of the competition with the likes of Rob Hennelly, Bryan Walsh, Frank Irwin and Mikey Murray among those yet to feature due to their respective injuries.
Darren McHale, Eoghan McLaughlin and Rory Brickenden were also unavailable for selection last weekend due to injuries.
The Mayo News understands that Brickenden looks set to miss the rest of the National League due to a shoulder problem while his Westport club-mate, Mark Moran, was released from the squad last month as he tries to recover from a long-standing groin injury.
Carney relieved to get win
MEANWHILE, Mayo’s man of the match against Roscommon, Jack Carney, admitted that ‘relief’ was the over-riding emotion after last Sunday’s victory.
The Kilmeena powerhouse scored 1-1 and put in a huge shift at centre-half forward.
“I think it’s relief at the end,” the 22 year-old said afterwards.
“Obviously, there’s areas we can improve on, we’re delighted to get the two points and get over the line in the end.
“Training is at a really high standard and when there’s that competition there, lads pushing each other for a place, it keeps you on your toes at all times.
“No-one is getting complacent, we’re just looking at week on week, training on training, and it’s working for us so far.
“So many people would love to be in this jersey, there’s so much competition for places, so when you get that opportunity it’s important to give it your all, work hard, and try and keep that position.
“It’s just about embracing the challenge and trying your hardest.”