While part of the reason why so many new lads have got game time in this year’s League campaign has undoubtedly come from a desire to blood fresh talent, it’s also surely due to the fact that so many of the established panel have been out injured this spring.
The exploits of players like Oisín Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin, Ryan O’Donoghue, Tommy Conroy and Paul Towey – all of whom have impressed of late – shows the benefit of bringing in new talent. Their addition to the ranks undoubtedly deepens the strength of the panel ahead of the coming Championship campaign.
We could, though, do with seeing some of the more experienced players back on the pitch for the Galway and Tyrone games. Indeed, the injection of a few wise heads could make the difference between our playing Division One or Division Two football next spring.
In this respect, it’s good to know that some of the established players who have yet to see any action in 2020 are close to full fitness. A few of them could as a result, feature in our final two League matches later this month.
You’ll have heard James Horan on the podcast (here) clarifying the position in relation to a number of players. Speaking after the Kerry game, James went on to shed further light on player availability. The issue is covered in a piece by Edwin McGreal in this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital variants).
Ed reports that James said Cillian O’Connor, Donal Vaughan and Fionn McDonagh are all “very close” to returning to action. James added that this trio, plus Padraig O’Hora and James Carr, could be in contention for a place in the match-day panel against Galway.
On the minus side, James admitted that Matthew Ruane (who required surgery for a shoulder injury picked up on Sigerson duty with NUIG in January), Chris Barrett and Seamus O’Shea are all unlikely to be ready to return to action ahead of the conclusion of the League. In addition, Colm Boyle and Jason Doherty both remain long-term injury absentees.
On the podcast, James said that Liam Irwin – a player bedevilled by injuries in recent times – is still on the panel and is “working very hard.” Whether or not that means the Breaffy player will get to see some League action this year remains open to speculation.
Ed also states in that piece for the Mayo News that it’s understood Brian Murphy, David Kenny and Brian Reape have all recently been released from the panel. While it’s not a surprise that the first two have been let go, the departure of the Moy Davitts forward – who started for us in Round 1 of the League against Donegal – is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, following as it does Gary Boylan’s exit in recent weeks.
The reality, however, is that with the door opening right now for some players, this has to mean that the opportunity closes on others. Not necessarily forever but certainly for the moment.
The trick – and the magic of management – is making the right decisions about which players to back at particular times and which not. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m glad that it’s someone else who’s entrusted with those tough choices.