Mayo defender Eoin O’Donoghue is confident county colleague and close pal Matthew Ruane isn’t interested in a switch to Aussie Rules. Ruane, 23, lined out for Mayo in their All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dublin and more recently attended AFL trials at UCD.
A report on the AFL’s official website noted how Ruane impressed organisers by running a 20-metre sprint in under three seconds. But O’Donoghue, who is studying for the same masters degree as Ruane, reported that the Breaffy man is committed to playing for Mayo.
“It was a great experience for him,” said O’Donoghue. “He said, ‘Look, the experience was great’ but he is focused on playing with Mayo.”
Ruane formed a strong midfield partnership with Aidan O’Shea before injuring his collarbone mid-season and fought back to feature in the key games against Donegal and Dublin.
“I don’t know if freak is the correct term to use but just the ability he had to recover from that injury and to get back so quickly, it was unbelievable,” said O’Donoghue. “I didn’t expect to see him there but I know from talking to him he did expect to be back.
“You definitely don’t want to lose a player like that. You’ll definitely be looking to keep him and I know he’ll definitely be looking to push on and keep those standards up and get even better as a player.”
O’Donoghue said the addition of county legend Ciarán McDonald as a coach in James Horan’s backroom team has been a big boost.
He is going to bring some great ideas. You can already see his ideas around spacing and that.
The 23-year-old declined to delve into the Tim O’Leary/county board row, insisting it hasn’t ‘really entered a lot of players’ minds’.
“Look, there are people who have a lot more time to be dealing with that stuff than the players,” said O’Donoghue.
“There is so much going on, especially when you are in your off-season, you try to focus on different things. You spend enough of the year focusing on stuff to do with your county,”
O’Leary heads up Mayo’s International Supporters Foundation and has been embroiled in a dispute with the county board over a €150,000 donation which was intended to go towards team preparation.
O’Donoghue said that, from his perspective as a player, no stone has been left unturned in the preparation of the team.
“Yeah, 100 per cent, we can have no complaints in that aspect,” he said. “To be fair to the Mayo county board, they do their best and I think James (Horan) has a good relationship with them, so that certainly helps.”
O’Donoghue, who made his breakthrough with the team in 2018, is hopeful that aside from Andy Moran, Ger Cafferkey and David Drake, the rest of their experienced players will stick around for 2020.
“It’s great to see them back and it’s up to us, the younger core group of players to really start pushing those boys to start taking their spots,” he said. “They are going to keep coming back as long as they are getting playing, so it’s up to us to up our performance to try to get to their level and get past it.”