Mayo look to avenge red hand defeat from last year

GAA: Nicky Rackard Cup

On the turn: David Kenny turns to get away from two Monaghan defenders last weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

On the turn: David Kenny turns to get away from two Monaghan defenders last weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

Things couldn't really have gone much better for the Mayo senior hurlers last Saturday - a 25 point victory, 12 different players getting on the scoreboard and the first competitive win of the year under their belts.

Derek Walsh's charges made the long trek to Clontibret and put Monaghan to the sword, running out 3-32 to 2-10 winners in the Monaghan outpost.

Their reward for that victory is a clash with Tyrone in Healy Park on Saturday, with a place in the semi-finals of the competition up for grabs.

The meeting with the Red Hand men will offer Walsh and his charges a chance to reverse the result from last year's meeting of the sides in the competition, when Mayo were surprisingly overturned by Tyrone in the same venue on a score of 1-15 to 0-15.

That result put a major spanner in the works for a Mayo side who had just dropped down to the Rackard Cup the season before and had managed to hold on to their status in Division 2A of the National Hurling League and were fancied to win the Rackard Cup.

Walsh's men are again this year amongst the favourites to win the competition and having got any 'dirty diesel' out of the system last weekend - they will be aiming to book their place in the last four against a Tyrone team who will be coming into the game slightly cold as they had a bye in round one.

Seven of the side who started last year's loss to Tyrone were in the starting line-up for Mayo last weekend with three more coming off the bench against Monaghan.

Shane Boland was the main man on the scoreboard for Mayo hitting 0-12 (9f ), with both Cathal Freeman and Brian Morley bagging 1-1. Freeman did have a major hand in Mayo's first goal of he day after he drove up the field and directed the sliothar goalwards - where it took a big deflection off Monaghan's full back, Kevin Crawley, to send it to the back of the net.

Mayo looked tidy and efficient all over the park, no more than in defence, where David Kenny, Freeman and Stephen Coyne minded house efficiently to lay the foundation for Mayo's attacking play, while Boland, Sean Kenny and Adrian Phillips were getting the better of the Monaghan defence with regularity.

Walsh will also have been pleased to see that, while Mayo had the game won from a long way out - they kept the foot down until the final whistle, adding 13 points in the final 20 minutes of the game to stretch out their lead to the final winning margin of 25 points.

Their opponents on Saturday will have been well warned of what is to come after last weekend's win in Monaghan and will be looking to turn Mayo over for the second year in a row.

Tyrone were again this year playing their league hurling two divisions below what Mayo were plying their trade at during the Spring. They finished in third place in Division 3A, finishing just one point behind both Armagh (league winners ) and Donegal to get promotion out of the division.

They won three, drew once and lost just once in the league - that defeat coming away to Donegal in round two of the league, while their one draw came in their final group game on the road against Armagh, on a score of 3-16 to 0-25 - with that draw enough to send Armagh into the league final and keep Tyrone in Division 3A for another year.

They had led late on that day with Damien Casey who hit 1-12 against Mayo last year in the Rackard Cup, landing his 13th point of the day three minutes into injury time - only for Armagh to level it up in the depths of injury time.

Casey will be a man the Mayo defence will have to keep their eye on come Saturday, having shown last year how big a scorer he is for his side. If the Mayo defence can keep him quiet it will go a long way to helping them get the win they want.

Due to the changed nature of this competition due to Covid - even if Mayo lose on Saturday they will still have another chance to keep their championship alive - with the loser of this game facing off against one of the sides who lost in round one, for a place in the semi-finals next weekend.

Whereas a win for Mayo would see them having next weekend off and a semi-final against a side coming from the loser's side of the draw.

 

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