Some familiar names could be returning to team sheets across the county for next weekend’s opening round of the Mayo club championships, but a few will be missing too.
While the high profile transfer of Mayo footballer Chris Barrett out of the county from Belmullet to Clontarf attracted a lot of attention last week, there has been plenty of other comings and goings with regard to players nailing their colours to the mast now that something resembling normal service is returning to the GAA club scene.
Crossmolina Deel Rovers are welcoming the return of Sean Kelly to their ranks after a handful of years spent playing for Wexford outfit St Anne’s Rathangan. Kelly was a star of the London team that reached the 2013 Connacht SFC Final after which the former Mayo underage footballer returned to the Deel Rovers with whom he played before their relegation to the intermediate championship.
Another former Mayo underage player returning to his roots is Niall Prenty. Indeed his older brother John has also re-signed for Ballyhaunis, with both having spent several years attached to St Brendan’s GAA Club in Dublin. Niall was a key member of the Ballyhaunis team which landed the club its first Mayo intermediate title in 2014, earning the Man of the Match award in the final having scored seven points. John, meanwhile, made seven appearances for the Mayo senior football team between 2005 and 2008.
Swinford will have the services of Stephen McNicholas available to them this season. McNicholas, joint captain of the club’s U21 team that won a county ‘B’ title in 2015, was also involved in Mayo underage teams and recently had been on the books of St Fiannian’s in Dublin.
Heading in the opposite direction, however, is Stephen McDonnell, as Kiltimagh see one of their bright young stars join the Garda club in Dublin.
Moving even further is Lahardane’s Tony Dever. The man who, at centre-back, was a star of the club’s team that won Mayo and Connacht junior crowns two years ago, has joined Dunedin Connollys in Edinburgh, a club that has become a home away from home for several Mayo men over the past decade especially, former county players Sean Malee and Frank Molloy among them.
The Westport hurlers have also been boosted by the return of former Mayo star Eoghan Madigan who has ended a long run with the Clan na nGael club in Dublin. The Covies have also secured the services of Niall Lenihan, a native of Mayfield in Cork.
See this Tuesday’s print edition for a comprehensive preview of next weekend’s opening games of the 2020 Mayo senior, intermediate and junior football championships.