Mayo were beaten by 2-9 to 0-14 by NUIG in their opening FBD League match at Ballinrobe this afternoon. Trailing NUIG by 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time, Mayo put over ten points in the second half (five from Austie) but they came up short by a single point in the end. So Johnno was right: the FBD was a non-event for us this year.
It was very much a Carling Cup kind of line-up for Mayo today. According to Mid West, the team was:
Tom Higgins; Conor Moran, BJP, Trevor Howley; Colm Cafferkey, Liam O’Malley, Keith Higgins; James Gill, Peadar Gardiner; Richard Haran, Alan Dillon, Mickey Mullins; Brian Benson, Austin O’Malley, John Prenty.
Only six of that line-up could be considered as serious contenders for the first fifteen but, unlike Arsene Wenger’s Carling Cup sides, today’s result would indicate that Mayo’s alternative formation doesn’t appear to be interchangeable with what might be considered the county’s A team. Oh well, there’s always the League to look forward to.
What else is there to say about this match, our first kinda competitive one in almost six months? Not much, really, apart I suppose from looking at where the more established players lined out. BJP at full-back? I know he was selected there for the Salthill debacle but he never lined out there. He’s plainly not a full-back – in the same way that Liam O’Malley isn’t either – and so it’s difficult to see why, apart from on-the-day expediency, he was tried there today. The same goes for Liam O’Malley’s selection at centre-back and, indeed, Peadar Gardiner at midfield. Both had very poor campaigns last year and neither can really consider themselves to be automatic choices in the coming year. Certainly not in those positions anyway.
It’s good to see Keith Higgins at left-half rather than in the corner. Howley is a better corner-back than Keith is and the Ballyhaunis man’s penchant for getting forward means that he’s better suited to a half-back position. I’d expect to see him nailing down this position over the Spring. James Gill’s return is welcome and, according to the Mid West match reports, it sounds as if he played well at midfield too. A re-energised and, one hopes, a more aggressive Gill would be a positive addition to the squad this year.
It’s also nice to see Austie banging them over but, if he’s to have any hope of being considered for a starting place in the Summer, he’s going to have to perform well on a consistent basis. I’ve never been a member of the Austie for President club but I don’t have it in for him either: all I’ve seen is a player with obvious talent who can’t seem to produce the goods with any degree of dependability from one game to the next. His talent will always mean he’s worth giving a run to but he really has to start providing evidence that he’s worth considering.
That’s about it, I reckon, although I suppose we should brace ourselves for all those predictable headlines tomorrow. You know the kind: “Mayo fail exam”, “Students teach Mayo a lesson” etc. etc. Relax: it’s still Christmas (albeit the last day of the festive season) and it’s only the FBD.