Hurlers look for home comforts against Leitrim

GAA: Nicky Rackard Cup

On the charge: Mayo senior hurling captain Stephen Coyne will be looking to lead his side to the Rackard Cup final. Photo: Ciara Buckley

On the charge: Mayo senior hurling captain Stephen Coyne will be looking to lead his side to the Rackard Cup final. Photo: Ciara Buckley

A busy weekend of championship action for Mayo teams throws-in right at home on Saturday lunch-time, when the Mayo senior hurlers do battle with Leitrim for a spot in the Nicky Rackard Cup final.

Derek Walsh's men have gone two from two so far this season, beating Monaghan and Tyrone on the road and are now just 70 minutes away from an All Ireland final.

While the Rackard Cup is not where Mayo wants it to be in championship hurling and there is no promotion out of the grade this year, as Walsh told us before, it's an All Ireland competition and it's there to be won and that is exactly what Mayo will be aiming to take another step towards, tomorrow afternoon.

Mayo had a weekend off last week after booking their place in the last four the week previous, with their win in Omagh over Tyrone, while Leitrim saw off Longford last Saturday to set up this clash.

The week away from action was needed and Mayo are well set for what is to come on Saturday, according to their manager Walsh: "We are all set, we've a couple of niggles, but nothing too serious I hope. We needed last weekend off, if I'm being honest; we had a few walking wounded.

"We're looking forward to the weekend now and having a home game and not having to travel up across the country and back home is great."

Walsh has kept his squad number fairly tight this year and it has seen a big battle for places in the starting 15 and nothing being left behind on the training field, he told us.

"Competition is fierce amongst the lads for a place in the team, we had an A v B game there last Sunday and the lads were putting up their hand all over the place and we'll have no fear of putting any of them into the game. While we have one or two knocks, it shouldn't make a whole pile of difference to us.

"Everyone knows how we want to play and what we are trying to do is to move the ball fast and play to our strengths and that is what we try to do."

Mayo did see off Leitrim in a challenge game a few weeks back before the Rackard Cup got going, but you can't take too much from that win, according to the Ballyhaunis man.

"We did beat in a challenge a few weeks ago, but they were missing six or seven, so you can't really read a whole lot into that - they won the Meagher Cup last year and they got to a league final this year too, where Sligo only beat them by three points, where they got a late goal. Sligo then, in the Christy Ring Cup last weekend, were only beaten narrowly by Roscommon.

"It is going to be close, they are a big a strong side - they'd be a bit bigger than us - but if we can move the ball fast and play our own game plan and not worry about the opposition, then we'll be fine.

"We went straight back the Tuesday after the Tyrone game and were in again on the Thursday and last Sunday and it is the same this week, now the sessions are short and sharp at this stage of the season."

He added: "If Mayo win they don't know yet where the final will be played - it is normally played in Croke Park, but that is to be decided yet; but wherever it is, Mayo just want to be in it. If we get over this week, we'll just be delighted to be in it no matter where it is played, but you'd hope that it might be in Croke Park."

 

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