A LARGE number of the 2006 Mayo senior football squad fly off on a well-earned break to the USA next weekend before returning to commence their new season in the FBD Connacht League on January 17.
Approximately 20 players from last year’s Connacht Championship winning panel – as well as officers of the Mayo GAA Board – will fly to New York next Saturday before travelling on to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. This will be their departure point for a week-long cruise around the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
New manager John O’Mahony will not be among the travelling party but his 2007 panel were kept busy over the festive period with a hectic training schedule. This included a not-so-leisurely run around the well-known cross-country circuit in Belleek, Ballina last Saturday.
The squad were also brought together bright and early on New Year’s Day in Ballyheane for a trial game which allowed O’Mahony and his selectors to run the rule over approximately 40 players.
“There are a number of players not travelling to America next week,” he told The Mayo News last night. “There are also a number of players that weren’t involved last year, so training will be continuing here at home. There is also a provision for training on the cruise ship so the players that are away will still be working to an extent.
“We took a break for three to four days over the Christmas but are back in the swing of things now again. Training has gone well so far and we’ve been doing some work with weights etc. We were indoors up to Christmas and have some work to finish in that regard but we went outdoors for a game on New Year’s Day.”
The panel have been immersed in intensive collective training in recent weeks as the countdown continues to the start of the new season. Between their first FBD League game against IT Sligo in two weeks’ time and their final NFL Division 1A outing against Tyrone on April 7, Mayo will play ten matches in just over eleven weeks.
These will include trips to Donegal, Fermanagh, Cork and Tyrone in the NFL as well as a floodlit FBD Connacht League game at home to NUI, Galway in Ballinrobe on January 24.
“That kind of schedule suits us to be honest,” said John O’Mahony. “We started training later than a lot of other teams and played no challenge games before Croke Park ruled them out. Playing so many games over the next few months will allow us to cast the net as wide as possible.”
O’Mahony, his selectors, Tommy Lyons and Kieran Gallagher, and team trainer, Jim Kilty, have left no stone unturned in terms of preparation ahead of the new season. A number of players are also being treated for injuries as the rematch with Kerry on February 4 at McHale Park, Castlebar now begins to loom large on the horizon.
“Ciaran McDonald had an MRI scan on his back recently, Dermot Geraghty has a slight knee injury, Pat Harte has a problem with his shoulder, Austin O’Malley is being troubled by his hamstring and Barry Moran has a groin injury,” explained the Mayo manager.