ALTHOUGH Mayo had a successful national league campaign, the one big concern for the county supporters and more importantly for James Horan and his management team was the problem in the middle of the field.
With suspension and injury ruling Aidan O’Shea out for most of the league campaign, along with injury to his brother Seamus, Mayo struggled in midfield despite the management trying several combinations.
With Aiden O’Shea sidelined until at least the Connaught semi-final (maybe longer as the management might not risk bringing him back too soon) against Leitrim or London on June 24, fears that midfield could be Mayo’s downfall in the championship were beginning to intensify.
However, over the past week there was heartening news on the Mayo midfield front with Ronan McGarrity returning to the panel (as highlighted in The Connaught Telegraph last week) and that Seamus O’Shea was nearing full fitness.
Over the weekend a few more Mayo midfielders hit the headlines, most notably Ronan McNamara. The Davitts’ man lined out for his club in the Mayo senior league on Friday evening against Castlebar and had a massive duel with Barry Moran in the middle of the field (his form for his club over the past two weeks have been spectacular). Indeed, the duel between the two was the highlight of the game.
On Sunday McNamara captained the Mayo junior team in their victory over Galway in the Connaught final in Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon.
In getting the man of the match award, McNamara, who scored three wonderful points, gave an exhibition of fielding which had to be seen to believed and received plaudits from everyone at the game.
Injury has kept McNamara out of the Mayo limelight over the past number of years, but now seems to have returned to his old form where he starred for the county at under-age level. It will come as no surprise to see him brought into the senior panel by Horan and he could prove a vital addition.
Another young midfielder who impressed last weekend was Charlestown’s Sean Morris, who was the star of the show in his side’s surprise but well merited victory over Ballintubber in the senior league.
Morris ruled the roost in the middle of the field where he outplayed his opponent, Jason Gibbons (retired with injury at the end of the first half) and was the main man in this shock victory.
Big and strong, Morris has plenty of youth on his side and surely a player who deserves a second look.
Not too many weeks ago a Mayo midfield crisis was in the offing. Now several options have opted up for James Horan..
My view is that Donal Vaughan should be paired with Aidan O’Shea. Vaughan is a magnificent athletic who will run and keep going all day. You can imagine Vaughan in his own full-back line one minute and up in his opponents full-forward the next minute.
It would not be a case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ as Mayo have an abundance of good defenders. Maybe it is an option James and the boys should keep in the back of their heads.
Mayo junior team manager, John Kelly, was delighted after his side defeated Galway in the Connaught final in Roscommon on Sunday.
Kelly said after the game that the hard work the squad had put in over the past three months paid off and that he was really proud of the entire team.
He stated: “It was a fantastic victory and one we well deserved. The lads were just simply fantastic. On Friday evening they were involved in Mayo senior league games with their clubs and we were afraid this might prove too much for them.
“But they showed tremendous fitness and were the team which was flying at the end.
“While we made life a little tough for ourselves by wasting many good scoring chances we got through in the end and just got better and better as the game went on.”