ONE of the constant positives mentioned about the Mickey Moran regime was that everyone was given a shot. The trials held last November allowed those who wanted a showcase for their talents a suitable platform.
Those trials paved the way for Ballina’s Ger Brady to have an impressive year for Mayo at centre-half forward. Ballaghaderreen’s Barry Regan was brought back into the inter-county fold as well and looks like a player who is getting progressively better.
But a lot of talent can appear in 12 months. Many players who were at the trials last November have come on in leaps and bounds for their clubs this season while some of those who didn’t – be it due to injury or an inability to put their name forward – may also now be in better positions.
And then, of course, there is the All-Ireland U21 team from last May. An unexpected but glorious national success has brought several more players into contention.
Outside of the 30 man Mayo championship squad from 2006, we assess 10 players whose merits are certainly worth consideration by the next Mayo manager. So, in no particular order, here are our ten to watch.
THE Shrule corner-forward is one some people might label as ‘too small’ but Ronaldson’s superb form all year surely merits consideration. His movement on and off the ball is top-class and he could be an ideal man to bring on in a game that is stretched. Showed his value constantly for the Mayo U21’s and is of age again this year.
CLOHERTY never played Minor or U21 for Mayo but his form in those years wasn’t far off a call-up and it has certainly increased since. Cloherty (24) is the one player Parke can never afford to be without. He has been their leading scorer now for over four years but can operate anywhere in the forward line. Strong, quick, accurate and possessing a good attitude, he is definitely deserving of a chance.
DRAKE was one of Ballaghaderreen’s most impressive players this season and the 23 year old half-back performed superbly on Ciarán McDonald in the drawn final. His semi-final performance on Knockmore dangerman Aidan Kilcoyne was equally impressive and Drake has clearly ‘muscled up’ in the past few years. Played for Mayo in the All-Ireland U-21 final defeat to Armagh in 2004.
ALTHOUGH beset by injury this season, Grimes is another player very close to the mark. Extremely strong and very adept on the ball, the 26 year old is absolutely crucial to Ballinrobe’s form. It may be said he lacks a burst of pace but Grimes, at club level certainly, is a player who can buy time for himself. Deserves another shot, possibly at wing-back.
THE Crossmolina full-forward has been one his side’s most consistent performers all year with his ceaseless, yet inventive movement. Has been tried before, in 2003, and while Keane (29) is small in stature, his strength is surprising. In the form of his life and certainly worthy of another look.
THE rangy midfielder was so central to Ballagh’s success this year. Athletic, a good fielder and a fine kicker of the ball, Kelly has plenty of good attributes. Missed out on the Mayo U-21 success this year because of college commitments but showed enough during the summer in top level club football to be worth a run-out.
THE Breaffy forward (26) is one player who missed last year’s trials due to injury after he tore his cruciate knee ligament last July for Mayo’s qualifier against Cavan. Only returned to club action this July and there is no doubting that a good pre-season will bring him on further. His strength, scoring power and cuteness in attack could be very useful.
THE roaming wing-forward is another player who would appear to be in the form of his life. His propensity in club football to get on the ball regularly makes him a key man for his club and his recent haul 1-8 (1-5 from play) against Moy Davitts in the league showed how he can find the target too.
THE powerful wing-back has been one of the main reasons for Tourmak’s success this year. Prendergast was a member of the Mayo U21 panel but didn’t feature however he has since shown he can’t have been far away. Built like his older brother Brendan, David’s speedy bursts upfield mark him out from the crowd.
THE Stephenites defender was hugely impressive at full-back for the Mayo Minors en route to their All-Ireland final appearance in 2005 and was also a major player for the U21s in their All-Ireland success. He is a quick full-back in the Kevin Cahill mode and many see him as the next Mayo number three. At 19, he may still be a year off senior inter-county but certainly as an exercise in development, Cafferkey’s involvement next year couldn’t but improve him.
Crossmolina’s Tom Nallen, who is 32 next year, is a player who is also surely due another look. Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar), Conor Moran (Burrishoole), John Brogan (Knockmore), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Paul Finnerty (Ballinrobe) and Alan Noone (Cill Chomain) are also players who consistently get the job done at club level and deserve a shot at the big time.