by Peter Lennon
Mayo boss James Horan has revealed Conor Mortimer could have reclaimed a starting berth in next Sunday week’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Dublin if he had not quit the panel earlier this summer.
With Mayo captain Andy Moran certain to be absent for the match and possibly longer with a serious knee ligament injury, an opportunity has presented itself for someone to make the jersey their own.
Horan said at last night’s media conference that there were ‘four or five players who have really stepped it up’ in the wake of the captain’s injury, suffered during Mayo’s quarter-final dismantling of Down
He did acknowledge that Mortimer, who left the panel due to ‘personal reasons’ after being left out of Horan’s first two Championship selections would have been considered a contender for the position if he was still on board.
“If he was here, he could have been playing,” Horan claimed. “But if ‘Jinking Joe’ [Corcoran, who Mortimer replaced as Mayo's all-time top scorer] was here he could have been playing too. To be honest with you, it’s irrelevant at this stage.
“Andy’s a big loss, no doubt,” he continued. “We’re very lucky that we have an extremely strong panel. You probably saw the start of that during the game when the subs who came on increased the tempo of the game. That’s a good sign for me that the team had already moved on.
“We’ve had four or five guys who have shown really well so we would be happy that we have had a positive bounce from the injury.”