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.