Evan excels for U21s

Mayo v Offaly U21 Jan 2014

Photo: @MayoGAA

For the third Saturday in a row, the U21s were in Hastings Cup action and this afternoon against Offaly at the Centre of Excellence in Bekan they had it pretty much all their own way, winning on a scoreline of 2-10 to 1-4.

The Faithful County were first off the mark with a quick point but our lads soon took control, with points from Michael O’Malley and Anthony Jordan followed by a goal from team captain Evan Regan, who added two frees to leave us 1-4 to 0-1 up at the break. The visitors managed to close the gap to just three points at one stage in the second half but our lads finished strongly and a second goal from Evan Regan – who ended the game with 2-3 to his credit – sealed a nine-point win for Liam Heffernan’s charges.

According to @MayoGAA, our scorers today were Evan Regan (2-3), Steven Conroy and Anthony Jordan (0-3 apiece) and Michael O’Malley (0-1). The same source also confirms that the team that lined out today was as follows:

Mayo: Sean Shaughnessy (Ballinrobe); Mark Forkan (Swinford), Sean Moran (Kiltimagh), Aidan Butler (Claremorris); Brian Murphy (Ballintubber), Joe Geraghty (Ballintubber), Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis); Owen Jordan (Ballaghaderreen), Michael O’Malley; Cian Burke (Ballymun Kickhams, Dublin), Gareth O’Donnell (Charlestown Sarsfields), Steven Conroy (The Neale); Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites), Anthony Jordan (Bohola Moy Davitts), Alan Ryder (Burrishoole). Sub: Brendan Carr (Ardagh) for Owen Jordan. (I’m not sure if any other subs were introduced – this is the only one mentioned by @MayoGAA).

The excellent showing today by Evan Regan, following on from his strong performance for IT Sligo last weekend, is clearly the main talking point from today’s match. Inevitably, there’s bound to be plenty of talk (as there already is in the comments) about the possible role Evan might play this year for the seniors.¬†The Irish Examiner’s Terry Reilly went so far as to muse on Twitter as to whether or not his fellow Ballina native might be “the missing link” for us.

Evan is, for sure, an exciting prospect but I’d be fearful of his being built up as some kind of mythical answer to our prayers on the back of a few good performances in January. I’d also be concerned about conclusions being drawn about what exactly is the story on his involvement with the senior panel, both in relation to what happened last year and what’s going on now.

As regards last year, it was clear from early in the summer that Evan – who was dogged by injury for much of the early part of the year – was unlikely to make the match-day panel once we got to Croke Park, with a number of other more established players ahead of him in the queue. Darren Coen, for example, was one of these but even he didn’t make the cut for All-Ireland final day so the chances of Evan doing so were slim to none. It was James’ call as to who he kept on the panel for the whole summer campaign and his decision to let Evan go doesn’t, even in hindsight, appear all that strange.

This year, however, is all still to be played for. Has Evan said he doesn’t want to join the senior panel? I don’t know but even if he has you could understand his position – with the Sigerson coming up and the U21 championship hot on its heels in March and studies to attend to, that sounds like more than enough for him to be getting on with. That still leaves plenty of time for him to join the fun towards the end of the league campaign, if James is happy to have him and if Evan wants to make his mark.

I find it hard to believe that James would ignore any player whom he knows could make his team stronger. Equally I find it less than plausible that a young player with bags of talent would refuse a call-up for a county that will once again be making an almighty push for the summit this summer. ¬†From the outside looking in, I think there’s little to be gained in idle speculation on this issue, an issue which I’ve every hope will resolve itself before the serious business of the summer gets underway once more.

42 thoughts on “Evan excels for U21s

  1. I have watched Evan in the u21 competition for the last couple of years and I have not been convinced by any performances yet. In particular his ball winning skills. I hope he stays with the u21 team for as long as he can and that he has a good run with them this year. This guy is young and has time on his side. So lets not all get carried away here. Adam Gallagher is going very well at present. I watched him with Mayo Gaels a few months and I was impressed. He also played with the Mayo Juniors last summer and he was very good.

  2. So is it fact or fiction that if our forwards improve, we will finally get over the line and win that first elusive All-Ireland title since 1951. Most of the narrative surrounding where we need to make improvements for 2014 seem to revolve around, adding more firepower up front. Maybe we also need to look at the other aspect of why we have fallen at the final fence so many times. One pattern that I have noticed in most of the big games that we have played in, the last few years, is the concession of what you might call soft or sloppy goals. In 2012 we reached two national finals, in both games we conceded two and scored no goals. In 2013 we played Dublin in three games, twice in the league and in the All-Ireland final, again in each of these games we conceded two and only scored one solitary goal by Andy Moran. Thats a total of scored one, conceded ten. So my main point is, yes we need to add some more scoring options up front but also we need to stop conceding so many goals in the big games. So maybe we shouldn’t just be thinking that more scoring forwards is the panacea to all of our problems!

  3. Just saw the team for tomorrow. 7 changes to the side that started last week. Same half back line but surprised to see Tom Parsons start at midfield with Aidan O’Shea. Good to see that despite arguments to the contrary Horan doesn’t close the door on players if their form and attitude is good.

  4. I should point out Mark Ronaldson,Aidan Campbell,Neil Douglas etc also stood out at underage level scoring freely however senior level especially the high level Mayo are playing at is a major step up. The shield final against Tipp will be played in a Longford venue apparently

  5. Good point there re conceding so many goals, we do tend to overlook these weaknesses at the back because of our wastefulness up front. Bad wide’s and endless missed chances tends to make the headlines but had we prevented one of Brogan’s goals we would be AI Champions now. That said, history tells us Mayo have suffered more than most through their lack of fire power up front !

  6. Well said about the goals lads. I preached that all last year to a less than enthusiastic audience. The less goals we concede the less our forwards have to score!!!

  7. Crickey, the glass is always half empty with my county men.

    Holy gawd, where does all that caution and lack of confidence stem from.

    We have two footballers, natural ball players,they are playing very well at the moment. They are just what’s needed to come into the senior panel , they have earned the right to have a crack during NFL . If you want to put a negative spin on it , surely wait till he is given a go. What you seen last year can be improved on greatly with young men of 20/21.

    Both Gallagher and Regan have the stuff to do it, they’ve got the stuff I’m telling ya.

  8. Thanks Mayo Mchale, yeah its like the narrative too that said James Horan got his match-ups wrong against Donegal in the 2012 final but who’s to say that if it was Ger marking Michael Murphy, that he wouldn’t have scored that goal too. Murphy has scored a lot of great goals against some very good teams and full-backs. It was the second goal that really killed us. If we hadn’t conceded that goal we could have been going in level at half time, who knows what would have happened then? Also another failure is that we conceded the second goal to Dublin in the 2013 final, just after we had scored a goal. As they say, your at your most vulnerable, when you score. This happened in the 2011 semi-final against Kerry too. Cillian O’Connor scored a great goal to get us back in the game but almost immediately Colm Cooper put the ball in the back of our net. Or even going back to 1996, the All-Ireland final replay, PJ Lofus scored a screamer to put us six up in the first half. What happened next, Meath came straight down the field and won a penalty, which Trevor Giles converted. So you’d wonder is it mostly down to a lapse in concentration, a temporary switching off, whatever it is, its something that needs to be eradicated from our game. The top teams don’t concede goals like that.

  9. Good point Pebble.A player can have all the talent in the world but without the right attitude and application they aren’t much use to a TEAM.We tend to forget that James and his crew are watching the panel,day in day out and is in a much better position to judge whether a guy is reaching the standard on all levels.We all know players that ‘should’ get a Mayo jersey because of x,y & z but if these guys were put out to bat at the highest level,how good would they be….Hopefully management get the mix right-I for one are trusting them on it.

  10. Lest we forget – lest we forget!

    Evan Regan started against Kildare in the league last year. First ball that came his way he plucked it, turned and scored a brilliant point. Got a good free or two also, replaced by Cillian. Definitely worth further chances. Small though which might come against him in the white heat of championship battle.

  11. Fair enough point but he’s not been tested yet in championship and that’s just my niggle I have with some of the posts , no sense in knocking something if it’s progressing nicely . Anyways he might not get a chance this year for the seniors , going by whispers.

  12. Lets just calm down a bit about Evan and give the lad a chance. It’s a pre season u21 tournament for gods sake. Some difference between that and senior inter county championship. He looks a natural scorer but most of his points are coming from frees. People proclaiming him as our missing link already are just putting unnecessary pressure on the fella.

  13. As I said a few hours ago on another posting, give Evan Regan, and the other U21s a break. We have enough players to test out without bringing U21s into the picture until the U21 campaign is over. I do not know of any of the 2013 panel being discarded and if there are no dropouts we have the 30 or so who were on the panel for most of the summer of 2013 plus players like Brian Gallagher, Keith Rodgers, Sean Kelly, David Drake, Danny Geraghty, Tom Parsons and the Castlebar and Kiltane lads [when they have finished their club campaigns] and maybe one or two more to try out. If that is not enough to keep us going for c. 10 weeks I do not know what is. In any case it seems likely to me that trying to beat a full forward line of Cillian O’Connor, Alan Freeman and Andy Moran if all fit will be a very hard task. It is, in my opinion, the half forward line which needs to be boosted and given more punch and Brian Gallagher and Jason Gibbons seem to me be the more likely lads at the moment. We also need to improve mobility in midfield to match the best.

  14. That’s a very good post there AndyD, everything you say makes perfect since. Things are ticking along nicely at the moment, a win today would do us nicely and leave us in good shape heading into the spring……

  15. Slight change of subject here but wrt the U21 panel itself, I would have thought that management would have trialled more players from the AI winning minor team. Only Stephen Coen and Diarmuid O’Connor from what I recall getting game time in the Hastings cup to date. Would have thought that players like Liam Irwin, Conor Loftus, Tommy Conroy would have the ability to make an impact at this level? Can only assume that Conroy is being allowed concentrate on the club AI semi but what about the others?

  16. Mayomaningalway, I always think that you need to have your best scorers, goal poacher’s playing as close to the oppositions goals as possible. Dublin have Brogan and Mannion, Donegal have Murphy and McFadden, Kerry have O’Sullivan and O’Donoghue. I would prefer to see Andy Moran playing on the half-forward line, fitness permitting, and playing Evan Regan corner forward. His scoring stats are as good as any Mayo forward, over the last few years, apart from Cillian O’Connor, no matter what the opposition has been. A lot of forwards have been tried the last few years against such teams and I don’t remember any of them scoring that much or even scoring at all, in some cases.

  17. You’d wonder does the experiment of trying to play midfielders or defenders in the forward line really work. It was tried in the league last year, with Aidan O’Shea been played at center half-forward and Lee Keegan tried at left half-forward, both with not much success. Or even if you look back to the days of Liam McHale been placed at full-forward, when at the time he was probably the best midfielder in the country. Even Willie Joe Padden was played at center half-forward in the 1989 final. Kenneth Mortimer, a two time all-star at corner back was also played at center half-forward. If you look at the 2013 All-Ireland winning Mayo minor team, they had a lot of natural scorers, poachers up front. I suppose that phrase, what we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history, comes to mind! Hopefully we can accommodate as many scoring forwards up front as we can. Playing midfielders or defenders up front has not really worked for us in the past.

  18. Yes id go along with that hopespringseternal.Id also say that the positions should be given to the form players and loyalty needs to be kept out of it.

  19. Agree with a lot of the posts, that warn of talking up Evan Regan – or any other of the coming players.

    One of the worries I have is that the midfielders do not score enough. It is the one criticism of AOS and indeed the others who have been there. When you consider how much the backs are contributing, the midders are sticking out.

    A Sean Cavanagh type, who can turn a game by lofting over a few skyscrapers would be a great asset.

    Maybe this is something that Donie Buckley can work on over the coming months.

  20. James might be trying out the young lads in the half forewards to see how they go on against men ,the Rossies always look like monsters when you’re close to them in the FBD.But the thing is it doesn’t matter who is tried out now because come championship time Dillon will be starting!

  21. Can I throw a grenade in the works here? Was never a Dillon fan. Under par in too many big games. Hit me with your rhythm stick, hit me, hit me!!!

  22. That’s why i mentioned loyalty in an earlier post.Well if Dillon is in good form come championship then fair enough.

  23. Dillon will be an impact sub this year I believe, Can’t see him holding his place, he’ll be one of two changes in the half forward line,

  24. Keep lobbing those grenades Joe Mc, loyalty could very well be one of the biggest challenges James Horan has to deal with this year.

  25. Sorry was a bit harsh maybe some of the young ones could take his place like COnor loftus why is he not involved or do connor

  26. Again its interesting to note in the three matches that we have played so far in the FBD league, we have been ahead in each by a few points, then we have conceded a goal and let the opposition back into the game again. We held on in the first two, for a win and a draw but lost today. Although you’d have to think that the other teams have done a lot more collective training than Mayo. Just to take notice of the theme again, leading the game, concede a goal, finish the game under pressure. As the saying goes, don’t give a sucker an even break i.e. letting teams back into the game. Thats something that we really mastered against Galway and Donegal in 2013, once we got ahead, we stayed ahead, we really need to see that in the big games, if we are to finally get over the line….

  27. Was unable to make it to the game today, but sounds like it was another lacklustre performance based on the radio updates. Lots of work to do before the team have to face significantly stronger opposition in a couple of weeks than what we have encountered in the FBD.

  28. We were brutal today,too slow to the ball,too many misplaced passes,very bad at the back in the second half.We looked slow and unfit,Tom Parsons ruled midfield in the first half,wasn’t in it in the second half.We were lucky to get a soft goal if it was a goal.Jason Doherty moved to the backs??.Adam Gallagher and David Drake played well,O’Shea made very little impact,forwards very slow to show for ball,overall a bad day out,major improvement needed before the trip to Kildare

  29. There is a few things i want to see this year and some i don’t.

    I don’t want to see forwards fucking around with the ball and running into trouble when they could take their score or pass it to someone in a better position.

    I don’t want to see loyalty from the sideline which could stop another player who is in form from getting his chance.

    I don’t want to see anyone on the sideline panic.

    I want to see exertion of pressure from start to finish from the backs up to full forward.

    i want to see an improvement in our development and game plan from last year .

    Finally and probably as important i want to see self believe in every player and confidence in his team mate.
    Lets go put in a challenge for the League.

  30. A o Shea made no impact???
    Thought he tired towards the end but otherwise he knocked the Rossies around for fun.

  31. I thought AOS had a major impact in the first half with some great runs but unfortunately little seemed to come off them. Too often we seemed to seek to pass rather than shoot when the first opportunity arises and often finish up shooting from less advantageous positions. In my opinion the first opportunity to shoot [for a point] is usually the best.

  32. Was Parsons who stood out in the 1st half apart from a few bursts up the field AOS was average today both Roscommon midfielders were better than him.

  33. I am not jumping on the bandwagon, or anyones football career either, but if we are planning to build an attack around Dillion and McLoughlin for this years tilt at Sam then we may as well stop right here, right now. McLoughlin, in my opinion, offers very little and Dillion can only be used sparingly, i.e. last 20 mins of a match when the opponents have tired a little and he can use his experience and his play making ability to get on the ball in good areas and dictate the attack.

  34. Think you’re being a bit harsh on McLoughlin there. Last year he was off form. The year before we were outraged when he didn’t get an All Star. On form, he hoovers up a lot of ball, brings injection and pace, is a good link man and is a decent passer and can pop over points. I stress – on form. Give him a chance. Let’s see in April rather than write off in January.

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