Small ball gets championship action underway this weekend

GAA: Mayo Senior Hurling Championship

Tooreen will commence the defence of the Mayo senior hurling title this weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

Tooreen will commence the defence of the Mayo senior hurling title this weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

Championship action gets underway this weekend on the GAA fields in the county, with the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship throwing in with two enticing ties.

The big game on paper is the meeting of last year's final pairing - Tooreen and Castlebar Mitchels in Castlebar, with Westport hosting Ballyhaunis in St Patrick's Park.

The tight nature of the schedule for this year will see two rounds of competition taking place and at the end of that, the top two teams will progress to the final and the other two to a shield final.

Tooreen are looking to claim their fourth Mayo Senior Hurling Championship on the bounce this year and will head into the competition as favourites to claim the Tyrell Cup - they backed up last year's three-in-a-row win in Mayo by claiming a second Connacht intermediate title in three years, to bookend a great season.

But they will not be taking the challenge posed by Castlebar Mitchels lightly - the county town men were the surprise package last year making the final and many expected the east Mayo Blue Devils to breeze by them in the showpiece, but Castlebar more than held their own, only going down by two points at the end - albeit they did get a goal late on to close the gap, but it gave them plenty to grow on for this term.

Ballyhaunis, who won 11 Mayo senior titles in 13 years from 2004 to 2016, will be sore after missing out on last year's final and will be keen to get back up to the showpiece occasion this term and stop their near neighbours from going for four in a row. Westport will be looking to stop that drive this weekend, but it might be a step too far for them at this stage of their development.

 

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