Hurlers book final spot with dramatic win over Wicklow

GAA: National Hurling League; Mayo 1-22 Wicklow 2-16

Driving on: Kieran McDermott looks to let the sliothar in against Wicklow. Photo: Memories thru a Lens

Driving on: Kieran McDermott looks to let the sliothar in against Wicklow. Photo: Memories thru a Lens

Mayo booked their place in the division 2B league final with a three point come from behind win over Wicklow in Ballina on Sunday afternoon.

Derek Walsh’s side picked up their fourth win on the bounce thanks in no small part to the free taking of centre-half-forward Kenny Fenney who finished the day up with ten points to his name.

But this was no one man show, with others like Sean Regan in the middle of the park, Keith Higgins at full forward and the all Tooreen half-back line of Michael Morley, David Kenny and Cathal Freeman all putting in top class performances.

Mayo were trailing on a score of 2-14 to 1-16 with 15 minutes to go, when the game swung dramatically in their favour when Wicklow were reduced to 14 men after Anto Byrne was shown a straight red card for pull across Kiearn McDermott during a throw-ball.

They outscored their visitors by six points to two over the closing quarter of an hour with Feeney tapping over five points, four of them from placed balls and Cory Schaill adding on the insurance score to seal Mayo’s win in style.

Wicklow went in leading by 2-10 to 1-11 at the end of a very entertaining first half, but one that Mayo will feel they should have had more to show on the scoreboard after their dominance of possession. But they conceded two sloppy goals in the the space of six minutes to give Wicklow the lead at the break.

Mayo vitally did grab their own major before the break with Brian Morley tapping into an empty net after Robert Fitzgerald had saved Sean Mulroy’s shot after the Castlebar man had been played in on goal by a Keith Higgins pass.

The garden counties Andy O’Brien was another star performer on the day finishing up with nine points to his name - he gave Conor Daly a particularly rough afternoon in the Mayo full back line for long periods.

O’Brien hit arguably the score of the game eight minutes into the second half when he drove over a free from almost his own 45m line - with one of the truest strikes of a sliothar you would have seen anywhere this weekend.

But Mayo were the ones who came strong at the end when the game was there to be won, with Feeney’s free two minutes from time putting Mayo ahead for the first time in the game since the 20th minute and the Tooreen man followed that up with a well taken strike from play to put them two clear, before Schaill’s final say on the scoreboard.

Mayo head north next weekend to take on second placed Down in their final league game, safe in the knowledge that they have league final to look forward to in a few weeks no matter the outcome.

But with the season going so well at the minute, they won’t want to let their foot off the gas too much in that one and keep up their winning ways.

Scores

Mayo: K Feeney (0-10, 9f ), K Higgins (0-4 ), B Morley (1-0 ), P Kiely (0-2 ), K McDermott (0-2 ), D Kenny (0-1 ), C Freeman (0-1 ), S Mulroy (0-1 ), C Schaill (0-1 )

Wicklow: A O’Brien (0-9, 5f, 1 65’ ), E Donohoe (1-0 ), C Moorehouse (1-0 ), D Staunton (0-3, 1f ), R Keddy (0-3 ), P Doyle (0-1 ), A Byrne (0-1 )

Mayo: D O’Brien; D Huane, C Daly, B Hunt; M Morley, D Kenny, C Freeman; S Regan, K McDermott; B Morley, K Feeney, P Kiely; S Boland, K Higgins, S Mulroy. Subs: C Scahill, C Henry, J Cotter, B Douglas, C Murray.

Wicklow: R Fitzgerald; S Kelly, S Germaine, M O’Brien; G Byrne, W Kavanagh, J Henderson; R Keddy, C Moorehouse Snr; P Doyle, D Staunton, E Kearns; E Donohoe, A O’Brien, A Byrne. Subs: J Byrne, G Connors, P Keane

Ref: K McGeeney (Roscommon )

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