Rob Hennelly the lone Mayo All-Ireland starter available for 2017 opener

All-Ireland finalists Mayo will be without 14 of the team that lost to Dublin when they line out in their first game of 2017 on Sunday.
Rob Hennelly the lone Mayo All-Ireland starter available for 2017 opener

Twenty-seven members of Mayo’s 2016 championship squad flew to South Africa yesterday for a 10-day team holiday.

That means goalkeeper Rob Hennelly is the only player from the All-Ireland replay defeat available to Mayo manager Stephen Rochford for the FBD Connacht League clash against NUI, Galway in Castlebar.

The only members of last summer’s Mayo championship panel not to go on the team holiday were Hennelly, Barry Moran, Shane Nally, Conor O’Shea, Brian Reape, Conor Loftus and Michael Hall.

However, experienced midfielder Moran, who got married on New Year’s Eve, will be unavailable for selection next weekend as he is on honeymoon.

Hall is also ruled out for next weekend due to a groin injury. Rochford is going to run the rule over a number of new players for this month’s pre-season competition with all of them expected to play some part next weekend.

Four members of Mayo’s All-Ireland winning U21 team have been invited into the senior set-up for the upcoming games against NUI, Galway, IT Sligo and Roscommon — Fergal Boland, David Kenny, Michael Plunkett and Liam Irwin. Rory Byrne, Donie Newcombe and Neil Douglas from county champions Castlebar Mitchels have also been drafted in.

Meanwhile, Ger Cafferkey (who wasn’t part of Mayo’s championship squad due to injury) will also play no part in the FBD League. The former All Star full-back is still recovering from the serious hamstring tear that ended his 2016 season prematurely.

As a result Rochford looks set to bolster his squad with some of Michael Solan’s Mayo U21 team. Mayo’s opponents next Sunday, NUI, Galway, are managed by former Mayo forward Maurice Sheridan.

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