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'I'm looking forward to picking his brain. He's one of the most iconic players' - Working with a Mayo hero

Eoin O’Donoghue discusses the impact of Ciarán McDonald on James Horan’s coaching ticket.

MAYO DEFENDER EOIN O’Donoghue says he is delighted to be working with Ciarán McDonald, who has accepted a coaching role with the county’s senior footballers.

eoin-odonoghue Mayo's Eoin O'Donoghue. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The 2004 All-Star was added to James Horan’s coaching ticket earlier this month. McDonald represented the Green and Red for 14 years, while also enjoying a successful club career with Crossmolina Deel Rovers, a stint which included an All-Ireland title in 2001.

McDonald comes into the role having previously been involved with the Mayo GAA academy teams for the last number of years, and Donoghue says he’s excited to be learning from a Mayo legend.

“It’s great, it brings a freshness to the group, especially with all the new players that have come in,” O’Donoghue told The42.

“It’s definitely something to look forward to and definitely something that should bring benefits to us.

“I’m definitely looking forward to picking his brain on certain aspects of the game. I think he’s one of the most iconic players definitely in Mayo’s history, but all over Ireland.

When you think of the name Ciarán McDonald, you think of the long blonde hair and the outside of the left boot. An all round really good player.”

O’Donoghue has never worked alongside McDonald before and naturally grew up idolising the former Mayo forward.

With just a few training sessions completed, O’Donoghue can already see their new coach’s impact on the team.

Just talking to him at training and the different ideas he’s bringing already. You can see it in the drills, he’s watching everything and he’s got a really keen eye for different things so it’s really good. 

“He has spoken about certain things that he’s seeing and I think it’s definitely going to be interesting to see the difference it makes to us.”

andy-moran Andy Moran retired from the Mayo team this year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

McDonald’s addition to the Mayo set-up is a timely boost for the Connacht side, who lost two-time All-Star Andy Moran to retirement after the conclusion of their 2019 campaign.

The following month, veteran Mayo defender Ger Cafferkey also called time on his inter-county career.

O’Donoghue paid tribute to both players and lamented the loss of their leadership in the dressing-room.


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“Losing Andy, and another one we lost was Ger Cafferky who probably doesn’t get as much credit.

Definitely a real leader around the dressing room, the two of them. A lot of experience but I suppose we’ve still got a lot of the experienced guys there. It’s great to bring freshness as well.

“With the new guys coming in, there’s a couple of new players coming in and Ciaran coming in as a selector. It’s definitely good, you need change so it’s good.”

Mayo’s 2019 championship journey came to a crashing halt against eventual five-in-a-row champions Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Horan’s charges were two points in front at the break but were outgunned in the second half as Dublin progressed to another All-Ireland decider with a 10-point win.

O’Donoghue was introduced off the bench for Colm Boyle in the second half of that game, where he saw Dublin’s superiority up close in Croke Park.

“They can hold off momentum. And when they did get momentum, they really kicked on. Similar to any great team, they’re really good at keeping the ball, keeping it moving. They’re obviously comfortable playing with each other.

“We were probably just unlucky in the way that we maybe didn’t manage the momentum swing as well as they did. That’s definitely something we can look at.”

Eoin O’Donoghue was speaking at the launch of the 2020 Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon, Sigerson and Higher Education Championships.

Electric Ireland’s First Class Rivals platform in 2020 aims to celebrate the unexpected alliances formed when County rivals, united by their college, come and play together in pursuit of one common goal.

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