Hurlers welcome the Kingdom in league opener

GAA: National Hurling League

On the run again: The Mayo senior hurlers will get their season up and running tomorrow when the host Kerry in MacHale Park.

On the run again: The Mayo senior hurlers will get their season up and running tomorrow when the host Kerry in MacHale Park.

It's been a long time since the hurlers of Mayo got to represent the county - having played their last competitive game of 2019 in early June last year when they exited the Nicky Rackard cup after drawing away to Sligo.

Since then, Tooreen have gone on to claim another county title and backed that up with a second Connacht intermediate crown, before narrowly missing out on a place in the All Ireland club finals last weekend, when they were beaten by Fr O'Neills in the All Ireland semi-final.

Mayo manager Derek Walsh will be relying heavily on the Tooreen squad for the new season ahead and will hope they can bring some of that good form with them into the inter-county season.

This will be Mayo's second season in Division 2A of the National Hurling League and they will be once again mixing it with sides who are playing a few steps above them in the championship, come summer, with Meath, Kerry and Antrim all competing in the Joe McDonagh Cup and Offaly, while Wicklow and Offaly will be in the Christy Ring Cup.

Derek Walsh's Mayo will open their league season on Saturday when they welcome Kerry to MacHale Park at 2pm - the Kingdom finished in second place in the division last year with four wins from five games, however they missed out on promotion after they were beaten by Westmeath in the league final.

When the sides met in the league last year Kerry ran out big winners in their round three meeting on a scoreline of 3-18 to 0-9 - the Kingdom backed that up by finishing in fourth place in the standings in the Joe McDonagh Cup to retain their status in that tier of the championship for the coming season.

Mayo's draw with Meath in round one last year was instrumental to them retaining their status in the division last term and they will be hoping that they can get off to a good start again this weekend against Kerry - however with the Tooreen contingent tied up with club commitments until very recently, they won't have been able to get as much collective work done together as Walsh would have liked.

After tomorrow's game, Mayo will travel to Loughgiel to take on Antrim in round two, before they have, what on paper looks like a must win game, at home, against last year's division 2B winners, Wicklow, in round three. Mayo will be at home again in round four when they host Offaly, who will be looking to put a number of years of poor form behind them and try to return to former glories under the guidance of former Kilkenny legend, Michael Fennely, and they will wrap up their league season away to Meath in Trim on the first Sunday in March.


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