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Students provide first test

Sport
Students provide first test

FBD LEAGUE PREVIEW
MIKE FINNERTY


A NEW ERA dawns in Mayo football this evening (Wednesday) as John O’Mahony’s first competitive season as Mayo manager since 1991 begins.
Sixteen years later – and seven weeks since he was unveiled as the new Mayo boss – O’Mahony faces into a hectic schedule of three games in seven days with IT Sligo, Roscommon and NUI, Galway all waiting to have a crack at the Connacht champions.
Every journey must start somewhere and Mayo’s commences in the back garden of IT Sligo’s campus.
Most other counties have a couple of competitive games under their belts at this stage of the new season but O’Mahony et al have had to be content with run-outs against the Mayo U-21s and St Brigid’s on each of the last two weekends.
He has also been without the core of his squad for a week due to a Caribbean cruise but it will be very much down to business from the minute his first ‘official’ selection runs out in Ballinode this evening.
Last weekend allowed the manager and his backroom team the chance to run the rule over a plethora of new faces and also refresh their memories about the likes of Conor Mortimer and Austin O’Malley.
It is most likely that O’Mahony will blend some of the old with some of the new for this particular fixture. He will be without a number of regulars due to their commitments in the O’Byrne Cup and FBD League with third-level colleges so an opportunity is likely to be given to some players on the fringes of Team Mayo.
The likes of Ollie Feeney (Islandeady), Paul Finnerty (Ballinrobe), Colm Cafferkey (Achill), James Kilcullen (Ballaghaderreen), Colm Forde (Aghamore), Declan Sweeney (Knockmore) and Edmond Barrett (Kiltane) were all given game-time last weekend and some may feature again in the FBD League.
On paper IT Sligo look formidable opponents. The college squad are managed by Anthony Brennan with Crossmolina’s Michael Moyles among his backroom team.
Mayo panellist Barry Regan will spearhead their attack with Balla’s Alan Costello and Donegal inter-county star Michael Doherty also in the forward unit.
Donegal’s All Star Karl Lacey and Leitrim’s Barry McWeeney are well-known faces in defence while last year’s Mayo minor, Charlestown’s Thomas Parsons, should line out at midfield.

MEANWHILE, Ballyhaunis is the venue next Sunday at 2.30pm for the meeting of Mayo and Roscommon, and John O’Mahony and John Maughan.
An experimental Roscommon team lost their first outing to IT Sligo ten days ago but bounced back to beat NUI, Galway by seven points last weekend.

Fixture
FBD CONNACHT LEAGUE
MAYO v IT SLIGO
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17,
BALLINODE (IT SLIGO),
AT 7.30PM

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