The county’s hurlers start their 2012 league campaign this coming Sunday with a Division 2B clash against Roscommon in Athleague (throw-in 2.30pm) and ahead of this Tooreen’s Shane Morley has been speaking with David Jennings in the Mayo News. In this piece, there’s mention of Keith Higgins’ appointment for the coming year as captain of the hurling team (a story also picked up by Hogan Stand today).
With dual players becoming an ever rarer species these days, Keith’s ongoing strong commitment to the small ball cause marks him out as a player who is happy to swim against the current tide. Given his willingness to continue to turn out on a regular basis and to such good effect for the hurlers he’s also an obvious choice, despite his strong commitments on the footballing side, to act as captain of Murt Connolly’s team this year.
Keith’s position as the hurlers’ on-field leader does, though, raise the question as to which team he’s going to be lining out for in the month of March, given that league fixtures in both codes will be coming thick and fast over the coming month. On the 11th, the hurlers play Meath in McHale Park at 12.45pm which is the curtain raiser to the footballers’ match against Down at 2pm. On the 18th, the hurlers are away to Armagh while the same day the footballers are away to Donegal and the following weekend the hurlers play London over in Ruislip on the Saturday with the footballers at home to Cork the day after. Then the Dubs are back in McHale Park on the 31st to face the footballers while the hurlers play Kildare at the same venue the following day.
Obviously, Keith is going to have to divide his time in some kind of sensible manner between the two camps next month. His absence from the football team (I’m assuming he’ll miss at least two, if not more, NFL matches over the course of March) will enable James Horan to give others (among them Michael Walsh) a run at corner-back. Notwithstanding this, our lack of solidity at the back – where Keith has performed strongly so far this year – has to be a cause for some concern in relation to these games.
A related question, I guess, is who is going to be named as the footballer’s captain this year? As far as I know, no announcement has been made as yet on this and if one were to come out with a shortlist, Keith would surely be on it along with last year’s captain Alan Dillon, Andy Moran and, perhaps, Donal Vaughan.
In other news, it’s now been confirmed that our refixed league match against Dublin on March 31st will throw in at 7pm and that the match will be shown live on Setanta.
Finally, I see it’s been reported that Seamus O’Shea is back in training having suffered a hamstring strain a few weeks back, with the same report also stating that Donal Vaughan and Barry Moran are both recovering well from recent knocks. This is all welcome news but it does make you wonder why Seamus and Donie were both picked to play for Connacht last weekend when it must have been obvious to Fergal O’Donnell and his selectors that neither of them were fit to line out. Seen in this light, it’s perhaps a bit easier to understand why the westerners took the battering they did last Sunday.