Hurlers face down local rivals on the road

GAA: National Hurling League

Letting fly: Keith Higgins takes aim for Mayo against Derry last weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

Letting fly: Keith Higgins takes aim for Mayo against Derry last weekend. Photo: Ciara Buckley

With one win under their belts already the Mayo senior hurlers will be looking to make it two from two, when they take on Roscommon in Hyde Park tomorrow afternoon.

Last weekend's league opener against Derry, allowed Mayo to get some ring-rustiness out of their system and start to get their hurling eye back in, after a number of months resting up.

Mayo manager Derek Walsh was much happier with how his side preformed in the second half against Derry after a profligate first 35 minutes of shooting, with Mayo hitting 13 wides before the break.

Walsh started ten of the team who got the nod in the Nickey Rackard Cup final against Donegal last November, which was Mayo’s last outing until last weekend, with no time for challenge games since they returned to training.

While he stuck with two thirds of that team from Croke Park, he made a number of positional switches, with Sean Kenny moving from midfield to corner back, John Cassidy moving out from corner back to wing back, David Kenny shifting across from the centre-half-back slot to the wing, Sean Regan moving from midfield to wing forward, Cathal Freeman moving up the park from wing back to centre half forward and Shane Boland going from the number 11 shirt into corner forward.

Also coming into the team last weekend were Keith Higgins at full forward and Pearse McCrann at centre half back. Higgins hit three points over the 70 minutes along with captaining the side, while McCrann looked very solid in the centre-half back position.

The score of the day from that game of course belonged to Mayo goalkeeper Gerald Kelly, who drove the ball over the bar from play, from inside his own 21 meter line after a short puck-out routine with Stephen Coyne - something teams all over the country will be well aware to look out for - after video footage of the score went viral during the week.

Shane Boland once again proved to be the main man on the scoreboard for Mayo, finishing up the day with eight points; his last point of the day was a truly outstanding score, pulling the sliothar over the bar from his wrong side tight to the sideline - it was also a big score in reliving the pressure on Mayo after Derry had grabbed a goal and looked like they were going to reel in the lead built up by Walsh’s men.

Keith Higgins finished with three points, while Cathal Freeman, Adrian Phillips and Sean Regan got a brace of points each from their starting spots, with Brian Hunt grabbing two off the bench. His second point was the insurance score for Mayo and the Ballyhaunis man who captained Mayo to the Nickey Rackard Cup in 2016, showed all his experience and composure, taking the point to seal the win, rather than looking to work a goal that looked to be on.

As for their opponents tomorrow afternoon, Roscommon were seen off by a late Donegal rally with the Ulster men hitting 1-2 in injury time in Letterkenny to pick up a 1-13 to 1-11 win. Two late points from Cathal Kenny looked to have Roscommon on course for the victory, but a goal from Ronan McDermott and points from Niall Cleary and Declan Coulter gave the home side the victory.

Roscommon had led by three points at the break thanks to a goal from a penalty from Cathal Dolan, they got another penalty in the second half but that was well saved by Donegal keeper Luke White and Donegal caught them with a late rally to seal the win.


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