Monday 22 January 2018

Mayo hit with treble injury woe while Gary Sice calls time on Galway career

Mayo’s Donal Vaughan with Roscommon boss Kevin McStay
Mayo’s Donal Vaughan with Roscommon boss Kevin McStay
Galway boss Kevin Walsh and referee Paddy Neilan in discussion at MacHale Park before yesterday’s match was postponed. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Seamus O'Shea and Donal Vaughan will join Lee Keegan on the sidelines for Mayo's entire National League campaign while Chris Barrett will miss at least the first four games, manager Stephen Rochford has outlined.

And Rochford's Galway counterpart Kevin Walsh has confirmed that Gary Sice has called time on his county career, joining Michael Meehan and Finian Hanley in retirement.

Both managers were speaking after their FBD Connacht League match was shelved because of a frozen MacHale Park pitch in Castlebar. Connacht Council will decide on a date for a refixture but room for manoeuvre is limited as the provincial league is run off on a round-robin basis.

The decision, following two pitch inspections within half an hour by referee Paddy Neilan, was made at 2pm, the original throw-in time, and led to a lot of disgruntlement among supporters and the travelling team especially.

Naturally, there were questions as to why prior warning could not have been given as to the condition of the pitch earlier in the day.

Walsh said: "We'd be very disappointed. We left Loughgeorge (training base) at 11.30, you would expect to get that call before we left.

"It is disappointing to have young fellas revved up to play that game. We probably underestimate the excitement that they have for that. To turn around and be getting on a bus to go home is not where they want to be. That call should have been made."

Walsh acknowledged the inconvenience for supporters too, around 1500.

"You'd think that by 11.0 this morning you'd know if it was playable or not before people left home," he said.

Spectators weren't refunded but were instead given tickets to attend the refixture.

Rochford said he understood the decision to leave it as late as possible to make the call.

"When you have got a situation where the weather has taken such a turn in the last 24 hours, trying to give it every chance to thaw out it is not preferable for people that have travelled when the game is called off at the last minute," he said. "But player safety has got to be respected and I understand the referee's position."

Rochford and Walsh were both in agreement that the value of the pre-season competitions remains, however.

Rochford does a have concern over the concentration games in the next month when Sigerson Cup activity is incorporated.

Hustle

"It is just something we need to be conscious of when you add in what the other aspects are in relation to the age of guys involved in the Sigerson. We have 10 or 11 guys that are available for Sigerson; you are trying to manage that with the hustle and bustle of the National League.

"The calendar is quite tight, but it is the same for everybody."

Mayo and Galway meet in the Championship on May 13 and before that in a League match on Sunday, February 10.

Many of the 2017 Mayo squad are still in Kuala Lumpur on their team holiday and some will only have limited League exposure.

"We will be without Seamie O'Shea with a knee injury for the vast majority if not all of the League," confirmed Rochford.

"Donal Vaughan has got a problem that will reduce his participation and he will probably not play in it.

"Chris Barrett picked up an injury coming off the International Rules which will keep him out for at least the first four games."

In addition, Keegan is making progress from a double hip operation and Mayo are planning for his unavailability throughout the League.

Rochford admitted that the conversation around a mooted warm-weather training camp in April had been premature and should not have had the forum of newspaper back pages.

He said it was never a case that the Mayo management would ride roughshod over the clubs in such a manner.

"What I'd be disappointed with first is that our preparations got discussed on airwaves, TV, back pages. That should have really remained in-house," he said.

"I think there were people just jumping on a bandwagon without knowing the full information and that information was that there was never going to be a summer camp, there was never going to be an impact on club fixtures and that there was never a case of it being abroad - and that hasn't changed.

"We've got preparations to make for Championship and we've got to respect also what's happening in the club scene and that the calendar is a more complex situation than it even was last year.

"This management team have totally respected the club side - people just need to look at last year where the clubs had players four out of five weeks after the National League.

"Where we can continue to have that sort of a relationship with the clubs, we will do."

Rochford also disputed the element of urgency that appears to have built up in the county with regard to finding new faces.

"That seems to be a common perception for the last number of years. We'll find the players that are there. We're always of a mind that there's good youthful footballers in Mayo, and if they're good enough, they'll be in the squad and might push out somebody that was there last year."

Walsh does not expect to have Sean Armstrong (back), Fintan O Curraoin (broken leg), Michael Daly (knee) and Gary O'Donnell (ankle) for much of their Division 1 campaign while the Corofin players will miss at least three rounds, but the manager still feels there will be more to them than just a survival mission.

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