Eastern battle to claim the crown tomorrow evening

GAA: Mayo Senior Hurling Championship Final

After a year's break, it is back to the traditional tomorrow afternoon in Tooreen when the Blue Devils go toe-to-toe with with near neighbours Ballyhaunis in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final.

Last year's Castlebar Mitchels dumped Ballyhaunis out at the semi-final stage, but the east Mayo men got revenge in their semi-final showdown this year, seeing off the county town men to send themselves back into the final.

Tomorrow's final will take place in the Adrian Freeman Memorial Park in Tooreen, with finals in recent years between these sides alternating between each other's home grounds.

Tooreen have been keeping up their fantastic run of form in the competition in recent years, seeing of Mitchels with ease in the grading round, before dispatching Westport in the semi-final, at their leisure, while Ballyhaunis saw off the 'Covies' in their grading round match, before getting revenge on Castlebar a couple of weeks ago in the semi-finals.

So it is all set up for another cracking showdown on Saturday evening when these two old rivals go toe-to-toe for the Tyrell Cup. Tooreen are the current Connacht Intermediate Hurling Champions, having won that competition twice in the past three years, so Ballyhaunis know they are up against it tomorrow.

Both sides are packed full of well-known faces on the hurling scene in the county, with most of them playing together for the Mayo senior side.

Ballyhaunis will be hoping to have Keith Higgins at full fitness - with the dual star missing out on a few games early on in both the football and hurling championships due to injury; but with a few weeks break behind him, they'll need him to be at full fitness for this one.

They will also need big performances from the likes of Eoghan Collins, Kieran McDermott, Jack Coyne, Brian Hunt, Feral Lyons, Mark Phillips, Donal O'Brien, Adrian Brennan and Eoghan Roe, if they are to dethrone the champions on their own turf.

Tooreen look to have the fire power up front to win this game and the Ballyhaunis defence will have to be on their toes to control the likes of Fergal and Shane Boland, Sean Kenny, Eoin Delaney and Brian Morley, if they are to win this one.

Meanwhile, the champion's midfield pairing of Daniel Ruane and Cathal Freeman constitutes players who are both experienced and canny operators at this level, and their defence with the likes of David Kenny, Stephen Coyne and Conor Henry will be very hard to break down for the Ballyhaunis attack.

The Blue Devils look like they have what it takes to retain the title, but Ballyhaunis won't be giving anything up easy in this one and they will leave it all on the line on Saturday evening in, what should be, a cracking encounter between these two old rivals.

Verdict: Tooreen.


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