Mayo one step from Ring Cup final

GAA: Christy Ring Cup

Powering through: Kenny Feeney looks to break through the Sligo defence last Saturday. Photo: Mayo GAA.

Powering through: Kenny Feeney looks to break through the Sligo defence last Saturday. Photo: Mayo GAA.

The Mayo senior hurlers are just 70 minutes away from another Croke Park date in the Christy Ring Cup Final.

Last Saturday's win over Sligo in James Stephens Park in Ballina over Sligo has set up a winner takes all clash with Derry tomorrow afternoon in Hastings Insurance MacHale Park.

Both sides are currently sitting on six points from their four games to date, with both sides having beaten London, Sligo and Wicklow so far in the competition. Kildare are out in front in the standings with four wins from four and are expected to see off Sligo in their final round robin game on Saturday, leaving the winners of the meeting of Mayo and Derry to battle it out to join them in the final.

Last Saturday Mayo saw off Sligo on a score of 2-24 to 1-20 in Ballina, with two goals in the space of five minutes from Keith Higgins and Kenny Feeney being the decisive scores to see Mayo shake off a poor first half and drive home to victory.

After the game last Saturday Mayo manager Derek Walsh was pleased with the win and was looking forward to getting back to work this week and getting a game plan in place for their opponents on Saturday.

Speaking after that win he said: "Delighted with the second half and frustrated with the first half - but we spoke about it in the huddle we knew that having the week off we might be a bit flat and that is the way it turned out.

"We thought the rest was the best thing for us, but sometimes when you get rest it is counterproductive - but a massive second half and we needed half time to come and had a good chat and ironed out a few things. The first 15 minutes of the second half I thought we were outstanding."

Mayo went in a point down at the break, having hit 10 wides over the opening 35 minutes of action. "We were delighted to go in only a point down, look, we were being out worked in the first half, that was the thing, and we had 10 wides, they were the problems," said Walsh.

Sligo did strike for an early goal in the second half, but Mayo responded well straight away and Walsh was pleased with what he say from his side after that, saying: "We have dangerous players all over the field. Keith in fairness went into the full forward line, we have Joe McManaus, Joe Mooney and Kenny Feeney and anyone in fairness they were all very good and it fell right to Keith, the right man in the right place and it brought us back into it."

Mayo's turn in fortunes this year once they got into the championship has seen them go from not winning a game in the league to being a game away from the Christy Ring Cup final - there was tough times but the players have to be credited for sticking to the cause, their manager said.

"Credit to the lads after a tough league, no point in glossing over it. It was a struggle to keep going from week to week and trying to get lads back. So fair play to them, they never shied away from it - they kept going and going and were top of the ground now and are looking forward to basically a semi-final next week."

"We knew Kildare were going to be a tough assignment no matter when we played them. It came at the wrong time or maybe the right time in some ways - we kind of banked the first three games, and to win two out of three was our goal. Not that we didn’t concentrate on Kildare - but that was our plan, went down to Wicklow and got a win, went to London and got a win and we had a good time over there and came back. The lads in fairness they never shied away, worked hard and thank God there were not injuries."

The build up to last weekend's game saw the placing of the fixture in Ballina rather than Hastings Insurance MacHale Park become a major talking point. But that did not distract from the team's preparation at all, Walsh said.

"To be honest it wasn’t a distraction for me or the players during the week. We spoke about it on Tuesday night and we trained and then it was parked. We had a job to do today and that is the way it has to be, we couldn’t get involved in the whole circus that was going on outside our bubble."

As for using it as something in their preparation, there was none of that at all, said Walsh. "Not at all, there wasn’t a mention of it at all, there is no point in it. We spoke about it Tuesday night, the county board made their decision, we are all men enough to talk about it, and that was it parked, that was it."


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