Monday, May 09, 2022

By Mark Higgins

The Mayo ladies will begin their 2022 championship season this weekend without the services of three of their most experienced stars.

Sarah Rowe in action for the Magpies.

Sarah Rowe and Grace and Niamh Kelly have not been included in Mayo’s championship panel ahead of their Connacht final against Galway in Tuam this Sunday. The trio, all of whom started in the Mayo forward line in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin, have been unable to commit to the Mayo squad for the entirety of the championship, which begins this weekend and could run until July 31, should Mayo reach the All-Ireland SFC final.

That is as a result of the expansion of the AFLW season, which will include more clubs and consequently require a longer season from 2022. Pre-season in the AFLW could begin as early as late-June or July, creating a potential clash with the latter stages of the LGFA championship.

Rowe, who plays with Collingwood, and the Kelly sisters, who play for the West Coast Eagles, will therefore not be part of Mayo’s plans for 2022. Rachel Kearns, who played with Geelong last season, has been included in Mayo’s 29-strong championship panel, however. It’s understood the Keenagh native has not been placed under the same constraints by her club Geelong.

Sisters Grace and Niamh Kelly will miss Mayo’s 2022 championship campaign because of their obligations to West Coast Eagles.

“We had to get confirmation that if they were coming in, they’d be in for the championship, or else it’s broken up. So we just have to concentrate on what we have and they couldn’t commit for July,” explained Mayo manager Michael Moyles this week.

“It’s three of the starting forwards from last year, but that’s just the nature of the beast. The girls had to make a decision and it hasn’t been an easy decision. They worked really hard to try to make it work, but we’ve set standards for ourselves that there’s a minimum requirement and we need anyone that’s coming in to be here for the whole championship and that hasn’t happened.”

Neither Aileen Gilroy, who plays in the AFL with North Melbourne, nor Cora Staunton, who plays with the GWS Giants, are part of Mayo’s panel for the championship.


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