New faces for the New Year

Photo: The 42

The New Year is now only just around the corner and the first round of fixtures in the 2018 FBD League take place (though not for us) this coming Wednesday, 3rd January. These Round 1 matches feature Sligo against Galway and Leitrim against Roscommon.

The following Sunday (7th January) our lads take the field for the first time since September’s All-Ireland final. This will be in a Round 2 FBD League match against Galway at MacHale Park, where I assume throw-in will be 2pm.

The 2017 senior squad aren’t due back from their Asian travels until Tuesday 9th January so this will mean that the players making the trip won’t be available for either the Galway game or the Round 3 tie that’s due to be played against Leitrim on the Wednesday of that week (10th). That opens the door for a number of new (and not-so-new) faces.

The Mayo News this week names a number of players who’ve been called up for active service. According to the paper (report here), twenty players have been invited to join the senior panel for the FBD, including Seamus Cunniffe, Michael Hall, Michael Plunkett, Shairoze Akram, Matthew Ruane, Brian Reape, Neil Douglas, Jason Gibbons, Kevin Keane, Jamie Oates, James Stretton, Peter Naughton, Fionn McDonagh and Jordan Flynn.

By the sounds of it, we’re not the only ones planning on blooding new talent over the coming weeks. John Fallon in the Irish Examiner reports (here) that Galway are intent on doing the same, with the likes of Rob Finnerty (Larry’s lad), Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh, Peter Cooke and plenty of others in the frame to get their first taste of senior action for the Tribesmen in the near future.

93 thoughts on “New faces for the New Year

  1. By comparison to last years FBD this years group are physically stronger and more experienced at club and county level.

  2. More than that called in. Tracey from Ballina Buttler McCormack from Claremorris & Moran from Holly/Carra to name 4 and sure more than Douglas from Mitchell’s and a few young Westport & Bellmullet lads called in

  3. DJ – Good to hear. I’ve been impressed with the players you have added seeing them at club level. The u-20 team will be a very interesting tour amount for us this year.

  4. Looking forward to how Akram, Ruane & Reape perform and Hall in defense. Winter pitches mightn’t suit Akram’s pace but it’s a huge asset come late spring so hope he performs well enough to be kept on.
    Gibbons, Keane and Douglas should be the leaders of that bunch. Lots of experience with those 3.

  5. Delighted to see Jason Gibbons being given another opportunity. Was shafted by H&C in 2015, missed most of 2016 championship due to injury and struggled with form early this year. Had really hit some impressive form in the club championship this autumn. At ~29 he’s got a couple of years left in him at the top level and with Tom and Seamie into the 30/31 age bracket – Stephen certainly needs to carefully manage that transition to younger mid-fielders over the next 2+ years. Also glad to see Jordan Flynn get a call up – strong, physical, aggressive, hard-working young lad with lots of potential. Really looking forward to seeing how both himself and Jason can man the middle in some of the upcoming games. Best of luck to all new panellists over the course of the FBD.

  6. Any word on James Shaughnessy, Ciaran Treacy ,Liam Irwin, Fionan Duffy, Ryan O’Donoghue and Jack Reilly?? We need to be blooding the top forwards that score from play in the county.We have to many working forwards.

  7. A few that maybe got away are young midfielders from Louisberg, Westport and Charlestown and Barry Duffy from Balla who’s a leader (if he’s recovered from club championship semi final arm injury). Also noticed Mattie Flanagan in same semi final practicing 45’s with plenty to spare over the bar into a strong wind though he missed once during the game it looked like he hits very high % over. If good enough talent wise (and deemed tall enough?) could still be groomed as a Goalie. Seems good FF skill wise too though maybe not enough team awareness which can be worked on but possibly not pacey enough for inter county and junior football for both last season a problem. Balla also have a very good wing back Kilkenny who has loads of football in him.

  8. Not much need to play Clarke in FBD, should be looking at our no 3 Goalie options to see how they fare. Also if Freeman back in panel as rumoured would imagine he should be available for FBD panel. Any word on that?

  9. Best of luck to the lads (and gals?) on their well earned holiday. And well earned it has been with all the packed houses these last few years not to mention replays. You have already given us life long memories. I heard theres an Irish Pub worth a visit in KL. called Healy Mac’s. And with a Mayo connection to boot- theres a franchise of Healy Mac’s in the Breaffy House Hotel.

  10. Any idea who makes up the 70? as the championship panel was 33 i think and with the two Morans and Clarke not going that number is reduced.

    Not sure would i call it “forced” to put a second-string team together as Mayonews says as this isn’t the first time that trip away has been booked in a way to allow fringe players deliberately play the early rounds of the FBD while give the majority of the senior panel more time off before the serious stuff starts.

  11. JP says:
    December 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm
    By comparison to last years FBD this years group are physically stronger and more experienced at club and county leveL

    Still no disrespect to them not a player amongst them like clifford. Kerry for sam , ya heard it here first

  12. Sean
    Clifford looks great for sure but hes very light. I doubt he’d last at senior level against the tougher counties for a few years yet or until he fills out a bit. I hope you can cheer up, seem a bit down this past while.

  13. David Clifford scored little enough from play at club level when marked by men not boys.
    I don’t think he will be ready next year.

  14. Would be confident on that for next year but Clifford is 6’3″ and athletic. Could very well be a big physical force in 2/3 years. Remember he’s much stronger than most minors.
    I would think we are involving u20s to ready that team for next year and also keeping an eye on 2019/20.
    I’v never seen as much promising talent or older guys from club level be available.

  15. Sean Burke, I do enjoy reading your posts here but you make me laugh sometimes. Firstly, I’m sure your not the first person this year to predict kerry for Sam – hardly an outrageous outsider given they are perennial contenders for Sam since the gaa was formed and have not lost a minor match since 2013!
    Secondly, I do remember you making a bold statement here a few seasons ago (2014) in February after Gooch Cooper did his cruciate and Kerry took a couple of early hammerings in that years league from Dublin and one or two others. You totally ruled out kerry as championship contenders that year in February, and we all know how that panned out!!

  16. Larry Duff leave Sean Burke alone. Pretty sure he has learnt not ruling Kerry out and early season form no indicator for champo

  17. FBD league looks like it might be decent this year. A Connacht League. Could this be the start of a new format top 2 in this league qualify for Conn championship final? Oh forgot about London and New York!!!! Anyway FBD league will show that Connacht championship can be condensed and played in a couple of months.

  18. Gaa have a huge marketing opportunity staring them in the face. Why not play the All Ireland club finals over Christmas. A chance to grab viewers who watch boxing day soccer. Instead a St Stephens day special. March 17 is too drawn out and comprising club lads who should be playing national league with county by then. What a way to finish Gaa season within calendar year and roll on the new year. I’m sure Lahardane lads wouldn’t mind playing in Croke Park over Christmas

  19. Dara Clarke and Tom Tighe from ballina also should be in on list playing quite good at end of season coming back from injuries…

  20. EL Tod – I don’t k ow if you know but this coming St Patrick’s day will be the last time the club finals take place on that day. Club finals will take place before Christmas.

    I don’t think any club would want to play the day after Christmas

  21. Thanks Yew Tree didn’t realise this was last one about time it’s done in calendar year. Still think club finals over Christmas would be good eg Dec 29/30. Would create some buzz in parishes involved over Christmas.

  22. I can imagine Clifford will be given his first taste of senior action during the NFL and then released back to the U20s where he will be expected to play a leading role in winning Munster and probably the All Ireland for Jack O Connors team.

  23. Mayomagic – Yes – like that leading role Kerry’s ex minors were due to play in this years U21. Galway took care of them.

  24. Just a question of topic but with the super 8s and more compact intercounty championship, when do people think the club championships be played?

  25. Time will tell folks, I like to try and stay as objective as possible. It was great to beat kerry this year but I cant help feeling since jack took the underage programme on in Kerry they have had a long term plan in mind . I could be wrong but I think I rememeber reading he was involved with u 16 development squads down there about 5/6 yrs ago when they blew galway and mayo out of the water in a tournament. Its just seems very professional what they are doing and I really respect their ability in Kerry to be very smart people and forward thinking.

  26. The fixtures for club championship next year does not include an AI in the same year. Correct me if I am wrong on this. I have always felt it was ridiculous that a national competition starts in one calendar year and finishes in another calendar year on an island state. Some sort of Irish joke maybe.

  27. James Carr is another lad many have mentioned before as a possible senior. Any word on him in panel. Also curious if some lads left off because of Sigerson season.
    We know Keane is back from injury which is good news but no word FBD wise on whether Freeman is back as rumoured by some here. Keane is normally a great winter / spring player. Hope recovery to County standard complete. A year is short turn around cruciate.

  28. catcol as two sayings goes… lighting doesn’t strike twice and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. With Jack O Connors CV for winning All Irelands he usually learns more than most from defeats like that.

  29. Shuffly Deck – was wondering same. Carr was one of the 5 who were part of the development group who trained with the Senior panel last year. Of that group of Gallagher, Carr, Ruane, O’Donoghue, S.Duffy – only Ruane named in the Mayo News article. However, would hope that all would be given some game time in the FBD. Another to watch out for is Adam Gallagher – was shooting the lights out for his club a couple of months ago – but can he make the step up to have a real impact at intercounty level?

  30. James Carr is on the panel already on as such wouldn’t have to be added back in.
    More than twenty were added but the article only named fifteen.

  31. It appears as if Mayo are playing nuig today in a challenge. I cannot confirm this but that’s what I heard.

  32. Would have thought Carr is on holiday with the senior players. He was a full member of the squad last summer and togged on AI final day. Expecting a breakthrough season from him, big strong lad and 2 footed, Andy Moran namechecked him as one to watch in an off the ball interview last October.

  33. Not sure he is what you would class as two footed. He shoots a bit wild off his stronger right.
    Peter Nuaghton sometimes takes frees off the ground on his weaker foot, his left. That is when yer getting into two footed when there’s little difference.

  34. Ya I saw Peter Naughton this year against castlebar in championship quarterfinal. He’s certainly a very accurate forward and a good free taker. However, he seemed to me a yard sluggish for intercounty football, though it can be developed I guess. James Durcan of castlebar could be another one to watch, he’s got a nice explosive style when on the ball which is essential at the highest level. Needs more conditioning though, too light at the moment.

  35. @Larry, yes I’v seen a fair bit of Peter Naughton at underage and senior for Knockmore. He has that tall slim long limbed build that will take time to get stronger and quicker from a standing start. But when he is up into his stride he can beat any defender one on one with little instinctive tricks that can’t be coached. Dummy solos hand and foot. He has height which I think will go up the priority list for selection next year. The kickout rules have changed making height a bit more advantageous.
    The other thing that impresses me about him is his ability to pass with hand and foot around midfield without taking too long to see or execute the pass. Some players are great passers but they have it telegraphed with a lengthy look, settle and kick.

  36. Considering most of the panel are away it was a reasonably strong Mayo team, with Reape Akram, Gibbons, and freeman playing. Amazing to think the season starts on Dec 30th..

  37. S Akram is the one I hope can make the step up great pace which I believe you can’t coach,but is essential for championship

  38. S Akram is the one I hope can make the step up great pace which I believe you can’t coach,but is essential for championship also i believe that S cuniffe very close to the team

  39. Mayo 6- 18 NUIG 1-8

    1 Paddy O Malley
    2 Stephen Duffy
    3 Ger Mc Donagh
    4 Aiden Butler
    5 James Stretton
    6 Ml. Plunket
    7 Shiroze Akram
    8 Jason Gibbons
    9 Mattie Ruane
    10 Fionn McDonagh
    11 Neil Douglas
    12 Nathan Moran
    13 Ciaran Treacy
    14 Brian Reape
    15 Ryan O Donoghue

    Brian Reape 4-3
    Treacy, O Donoghue and McDonagh got a few points each. Oisin McLoughlin on in 2nd half scored 1-2. The rest of the scores up for grabs???

  40. Thanks a million Willie Mac.
    Excellent team mixing battle hardened older guys, 2018 u22/u23s and bringing in the stronger u20s for 2018 u20 and likely 2019/20 senior careers.

  41. Final score was 1-18 to 6-18, mayo defence were pretty poor and NUIG were apparently missing all county players, Brian reape and Jason gibbons had good performances.

  42. Thanks Willie Mac. Plenty of youth in that starting XV. The win will be a good confidence boost for them regardless of the quality of the opposition. Big step up to Galway next weekend but one I’m sure they will be really looking forward to.

  43. Great stuff Willie.

    Any chance of putting clubs on: o’malley, Butler, Fionn McDonagh, Moran, ODonoghue and Oates?

  44. Catcol,
    McDonagh is Westport and odonoghue is belmullet. Oates from Garrymore and Nathan Moran a youngster from hollymount who I think captained successful Ballinrobe school team last year.
    Don’t know others – o Malley is Westport maybe??
    Nice to see these lads getting a run but in truth they are mostly names for the future, although I think Ryan o donoghue is a quality player with a lot of potential.

  45. Patrick OMalley – Westport u20 2018
    Aidan Butler – Claremorris
    Fionn McDonagh -:Westport u21 2018
    Nathan Moran – Hollymount u19 2018
    Ryan ODonoghue – Belmullet u20 2018
    Jamie Oates – Garrymore u22 2018

  46. O’Malley & McDonagh – Westport
    O’Donoghue – Belmullet
    Moran – Holly/Carra
    Oates – Garrymore
    Butler – Claremorris? (not 100%)

  47. 1.Patrick O’Malley Westport
    2.Stephen Duffy Crossmolina
    3.Ger McDonagh Castlebar
    4.Aidan Butter Claremorris
    5.James Stretton Claremorris
    6.Michael Hall Breaffy
    7.Sharoize Akram Ballaghadareen
    8.Jason Gibbons Ballintubber
    9.Mattie Ruane Breaffy
    10.Fionn McDonagh Westport
    11.Neil Douglas Castlebar
    12.Nathan Moran Hollymount
    13.Ciaran Tracy Ballina
    14.Brian Reape Moy Davitts
    15.Ryan O’Donoghue Belmullet
    David Clarke Ballina
    Kevin Keane Westport
    Jamie Oates Garrymore
    Seamus Cunniffe Ballaghadareen
    Alan Freeman Aughamore
    Peter Naughon Knockmore
    James McCormack Claremorris
    Jordan Flynn Crossmolina
    Michael Plucknett Ballintubber

  48. Thanks TH. That match listing of players from the u21s upwards would give you a lot of confidence that several players will get close to the 15/26/34.
    Think back to this same stage last year and really we were just fielding a team to fill a fixture.
    This year there are far more realistic options.

  49. Any word on how young Treacy from Ballina did, he’s deadly quick and can score goals. Brian Reape looks set to nail a place for a National League debut v Monaghan .Be interesting to see how Dougie goes in the Fbd was unlucky to break his finger in the competition last year and hindered his involvement in National League.

  50. @ the fox. NUIG county players would be G O Kelly Lynch,K McDonnell of Sligo M Daly, E Tierney, P Cooke,E Finnerty,D Comer,K Molloy Galway etc.. so i presume that was mostly the NUIG intermediate team that played lined out in that challenge?

  51. The great thing about this blog is that it never sleeps. I raised a query at 12:45 on Sat night and here are all the answers on Sunday morning!

    Thanks Larry Duff, JP, Wideball and TH.

  52. Anyone who attends clubs games will know there is plenty of talent in that team that played yesterday. People seem to think when the current team break up it’s all over but it isn’t…Mayo always have and we always will produce good quality players and teams.

  53. A lot of modern coaches in our clubs sticking with teams have improved our clubs and now delivered more players.
    From minor to u21 to senior to intermediate and junior. All the titles were well contested by several teams in each grade.
    On current form if you go from the 2013 minors to the 2016 minors in particular with forwards it is very impressive.
    Conor Loftus ’13
    Diarmuid OConnor ’13
    Ciaran Treacy ’13 (did not play minor county)
    Brian Reape ’14
    James Carr ’15
    Fionn McDonagh ’15
    Peter Naughton ’15 (did not play minor county)
    Oisin McLoughlin ’16
    Colm Moran ’16
    Ryan ODonoghue ’16
    Then looking at defenders for the same period on current form.
    Stephen Coen ’13
    Michael Hall ’13
    Michael Plunkett ’13
    James Kelly ’14
    Seamus Cunniffe ’14
    Eoin ODonoghue ’14
    2015 defenders hard to judge based on this years club.
    Johnny Maughan ’16
    Brian OMalley ’16
    Mathew Macken ’16
    Paul Lambert ’16 he has gone to defence now
    Finally midfielders not quite as strong just three really in that time:
    Padraig Prendergast ’13 still potential
    Matthew Ruane ’14
    Barry Duffy ’15

    2016 Nathan Moran had another year.
    Colm Murphy no longer plays midfield.
    The best 15 of those four years matches up well to other golden minor periods like 2007 – 2010.

  54. I left out by accident Shairoze Akram defence ’15. Think defence is his best position.
    Incidentally Shairoze missed minor in 2015 due to injury.

  55. Delighted to see Freezer back. That lad has a lot to offer, particularly with Andy out for the early part of the league. If plays in the same role that Andy adopted in summer 17 and gets the same sort of ball, he can really cause damage.

  56. I always thought Freezer got cat ball. Agree with you Louis. Think he might do much better in the current setup with the team being much more polished in attack.
    Tellin ye now, there’s going to be massive pressure on places.
    Neil Douglas, Stephen Duffy and Ger McDonagh three other older guys who will go very close.

  57. Andy gets great ball in matches because he is moving all the time off the ball and making runs. One of the weaknesses in Alan Freemans game is his poor Work rate off the ball. Doesn’t make the runs and is standing behind the full back – too easy to mark at county level. Hopefully he will learn from watching Andy. If he can – he had the size and ability to make a contribution.

  58. JP
    You could add a few more to your list
    James McCormack not selected at minor in 2015,won minor A title that year
    Colm Diskin 16 injury kept him out most of year
    Stephen McGreal 16&17

    Ross Egan 15 & 16
    James Lyons 15

    Padraig o Malley injury kept him out at underage
    Joe Dawson 17

    Cillian Golding, 17 played midfield for St Colmans last year even with a strong claremorris contingent in that area

    Donovan Cosgrove 16
    Cillian Finn not selected at minor, had injuries, attacking halfback who can scorek

    Will be a strong U20 side this year, I think we can improve our 2016 minors more with minors minors from 2017 and the stronger u17’s from last year John Gallagher Mayo Gaels springs to mind

  59. Any word on big TJ Byrne from Kiltimagh. Showed promise at underage. Akram is definitely one to watch. But maybe still too soon. He would still be u21 this year

  60. Bohola
    TJ Byrne needs to get into the kiltimagh team first, starting to look like a last 10 minute player, he appeared briefly in the intermediate final against Bohola Moy Davitts. I would have Eoghan Lavin and the Lydons ahead of him on his current form. He was on the the Mayo U21 panel for the last 3 years but had little input. James Carr looks to have moved passed him with ease as a big mobile target man.
    Pity James Carr will miss his last year at u21 with it changing to U20 this year

    Another player I forgot is Evan o Brien Ballinrobe a minor the last 2 years, plays midfield got injured last year missed the minor championship game.

  61. Word of caution our minors have been humiliated by Galway in the last 3 years our u17s were well beaten also last year. It’s a huge jump to inter county senior. Clifford is way ahead of anything we have and he is probably not ready yet. None of our young lads can kick pass like Evan Murphy Galway who destroyed us at minor last 2years. We have individual talents coming through but most are not ready for fast tracking need lot of club games at senior level first. I remember DoC and CoS given championship start v Rossies and were out of their depth needed to be replaced by Dillon and Andy. CoS still not a starter. It takes time unless you are exceptional AoS CoC. If Loftus Boland Freeman Coen Douglas and Reape can step up it will strengthen our bench. Give Nally more game time too. We don’t need lots of new players just improving each sub

  62. Game v Rossies. Diarmuid and Conor given a start by James Horan didnt work out both substituted. Too early for them.

  63. Thanks Mayomessi. Wasn’t aware as I’m out of the loop. I was in the Canal End in 1978 when his dad Tom scored 2 goals in the minor final in last 5 mins to beat the dubs who were leading up to then. Great day that.

  64. Some very interesting players called in. Most of whom have been aforementioned on this site throughout the club championship.
    Micheal Forde is a man who seriously impressed me the two games I saw of him this season. Seems to have slipped under the radar of management. Jack Reilly from Charlestown another one.
    I also really don’t see the point in playing David Clarke on the December 30th? What does he have to prove at this stage? Give Paddy O Malley the minutes.
    On the topic of David Clifford he’s 6’3 and has two great feet, great balance and an eye for a pass. The man is a serious talent and will take stopping in 2/3 years time. Would not bank on a defender in the county “cleaning” him as someone previously mentioned.

  65. @Mayomessi. Some of those you mention are not in county type form at club level or particularly dominant at minor hence I omitted some of those.
    Padraig OMalley, James Mccormack, Conor Diskin and Ross Egan all in good form. Evan Ronane and Jack Ronayne. Another is Cathal Horan.

  66. Spot on South Mayo Exile – same reasons that hearing of his return does not exactly fill me with excitement. Lets face it – he will be given a place in the 2018 panel at the expense of one of our younger, creative, confident, skillful, exciting prospects. Not exactly a recall that aligns with any sort of transition plan for our aging team.

  67. I’d be confident Freezer is well head of all the young forwards bar maybe Brian Reape and Ciaran Treacy. If Freezer is one of the main players helping us win a game it goes unheralded. By comparison when in my view it was very debatable if Alan Dillon helped us beat Tyrone there was just an avalanche of messages ready to go, masterclass, pulling the strings.
    When Dillon would have a quiet in recent years not much said about it, when Freezer has a quiet game an avalanche of, too nice, hasn’t got it.
    For the purposes of debate I’ll put a point out there to keep debate healthy.
    Alan Freeman outperformed Alan Dillon since 2013 across league and championship yet keeps having to justify his place on the panel amongst supporters.
    In fact we would not have beaten Tyrone in 2013 only for Freezer. A story never heralded, much less so than the Dillon masterclass.
    So Dillon maybe caught a bit there in the points but I’v kept it pretty factual to prove a point about unfair perceptions on players.

  68. I would agree 100% with you JP.
    Dillon has been a great servant to Mayo football down the years, and on his day was class, but definitely in the last 2 or 3 hasn’t brought much to the table. I also thought that Freeman was nevér a full forward, had more to offer in the corner or at half forward.

  69. I thought Freezer was only a full forward line man. Never in my view looked comfortable at county level at half forward.

  70. Yes JP full forward line for Freeman he has an eye for a goal. Competition for places Reape etc and time away from set up MIT just give him that extra grit and determination he needs. Could be a useful man to bring on. We can manage without a new superstar that goes straight into team, it’s all about improving our options on the bench. That is the difference between us and Dublin. Freeman and others can give us that small % that can get us over the line. As Rochford said “small margins”

  71. You’d have to wonder when you hear a lad who was on Mayo u21 panel for the last 3 years in a row is only a substitute for an intermediate club team. Unless there is an injury explanation, it’s hard to understand. As stated above, the likeliest lads to breakthrough this year are the ones already on the fringe panel from 2017. For a lad like Conor o shea, it’s a make or break year. A fifth year on the panel without a breakthrough is hard to justify when there plenty of younger talent around with potential. Really hope he can push on in the league and move from bit part to essential player in Rochfords mind. Return of freeman also a positive development.

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