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What now appears to be an annual meeting of Tooreen and Ballyhaunis in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final - will have its latest outing on Sunday - when the two east Mayo rivals square off in Ballyhaunis at 3pm.
The Mayo senior hurlers head east on Sunday looking to pick up a win that will get their National Hurling League campaign back on track following their opening round loss to Derry in MacHale Park last Sunday afternoon. JP Coen's men were felled by the Oak Leaf county by the smallest of margins with the visitors running out winners on a scoreline of 1-14 to 1-13.
It was never going to be easy for Ballyahunis to become the first Mayo side to claim the Connacht Intermediate Hurling Championship and when Keith Higgins found the back of the net for their second goal two minutes into injury time they almost did it. But an equalizer from Stephen Kelly who scored two points from midfield sent the game into extra time on a scoreline of 2-10 to 0-16.
It has been a busy few weeks for the Ballyhaunis hurlers and it is about to get busier again. On Sunday, they face into their fourth game in 14 days, having draw the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final with Tooreen last Sunday week, before they eventually got the better of them in another Titanic encounter in Ballyhaunis last Sunday by just three points. They followed that up on Wednesday evening with a 1-12 to 0-9 win over Roscommon champions Oran in the semifinal of the Connacht Intermediate Championship in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence and now on this coming Sunday, they face Galway champions Ahascragh-Fohenagh in the final of that competition at 2pm in Athleague.
There are derby days in all sports all over the globe, but there are very few that are as intimate as what has become the now annual shoot-out for the Mayo senior hurling championship between Ballyhaunis and Tooreen. On Sunday afternoon in the east Mayo village of Tooreen, that rivalry will have another showdown for local pride and county honours.
Getting relegated out of the second tier of the senior inter-county hurling championship would never have been part of the plan for Mayo, but that was what happened last year when a disappointing season ended with them dropping down into the third tier competition for the first time since the new championship gradings were introduced back in 2005. Up until this demotion Mayo had operated in the Christy Ring Cup and held their own for the most part with the sides in that competition.
It is quite possible that tomorrow afternoon some of the Mayo faithful who make the long trip to the Carrickmore for their Nicky Rackard Cup opener and take a seat in the stand in the ground will have a feeling of déjà vu, because the ground is the new home of the old Nally Stand that was once a fixture of Croke Park before the GAA headquarters was completely redeveloped. The stand of course also has plenty of Mayo connections, being named after Balla native Patrick William Nally.