The defending All Ireland U21 champions got off to a ropey start in the North West Cup last weekend against Sligo in the Sligo Centre of Excellence. After Derry's withdrawal from the competition this was Mayo's first outing in the cup, with Sligo having seen off the challenge of Donegal the previous weekend.
Michael Solan's charges used this competition as a good springboard to an assault on provincial honours last spring and he will be hoping that tomorrow afternoon they can pick up a win to get their season moving in the right direction. Their opponents in Ballina tomorrow fielded a very experimental side in their opening round game with their proper U21 side in action in the McKenna Cup this year, and Declan Bonner's side were in action in that competition this week when Tyrone inflicted a 2-23 to 0-6 defeat to end their interest in the McKenna Cup.
Last weekend Michael Solan's starting team featured three of the starting line up from the last year's All Ireland final with Shairoze Akram, Mattie Flanagan, and James Kelly all taking to the field from the get go, Moy Davitts' man Brian Reape was also among the first 15 having started in last year's U21 campaign only to miss the final through injury.
The main difference between the sides on the scoreboard at the end of the day was Sligo's ability to take their goal chances when they came with Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch and Kyle Cawley both finding the net in a two minute period midway through the first half. Mayo had three very good goal scoring chances over the course of the hour but spurned all of them.
The second half saw a major improvement from Mayo who had gone in trailing 2-3 to 0-2 at the break, and in the second half they outscored their hosts 0-8 to 0-2, with the introduction of Charlestown's Jack Reilly a major influence on the game, Reilly was full of energy and running and contributed two points during the second half.
All in all it was a decent first run out for Solan's men and they will only get better with more playing time together on the field, tomorrow offers them an opportunity to pick up their first win of the year and gives them a chance to run their eye over a number of other potentials for the championship come spring time.