In preparation for their upcoming National Hurling League campaign, the Mayo senior hurlers were in action against neighbours Sligo in what turned out to be a worthwhile run-out for both sides. For the Mayo management of Martin Brennan and Peter Finnerty, it was their third time viewing their side in action over the last few weeks, after watching two previous friendly wins over Monaghan (3-14 to 2-8 ) and GMIT Letterfrack (3-15 to 0-9 ).
Notable absentees from the Mayo panel list this season are Derek Walsh, who announced his retirement from intercounty hurling after last year’s defeat to Down in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final, and Adrian Freeman, who is currently on a sojourn down under in Australia. In typical intercounty challenge style, the game was played as three periods of 25 minutes, with players from both sides getting at least 50 minutes’ play to show their intent. Mayo opened well as they took full advantage of the wind to go 1-8 to 1-0 clear. Mayo's goal came from Brian Hunt, after two earlier shots by Kenneth Robinson and Stephen Hoban had been batted clear by the Sligo custodian.
The second period saw Sligo come more into the tie as they regrouped to go in at the break trailing by 1-11 to 1-7, but the final period of the tie saw Mayo stretch further ahead with a brace of goals from Stephen Hoban, along with good points from Derek McConn, Stephen Hunt, and substitute Declan Gallagher. Other newcomers to the Mayo side to perform well included Sean Markham and James Lowe, who will both be challenging hard for starting places in the NHL, while Tooreen duo Stephen Hunt and Shane Morley have slotted back into contention after returning from Australia in recent months.
Mayo will play challenges against Donegal and Roscommon over the coming weeks, before opening their NHL Division 3A campaign against Armagh in Crossmaglen on Sunday February 21.
Mayo: Andrew Butler; Shane Morley, Liam Lyons (0-1 ), Brian Higgins; James Lowe, Conor Ryan, Sean Markham; Derek McConn (0-2 ), Stephen Hunt (0-2 ); Niall Murphy (0-2 ) ), Derek McDonnell (0-1 ), Brian Hunt (1-1 ); Martin Devaney (0-1 ), Kenny Robinson (0-2 ), Stephen Hoban (2-2 ). Subs: Kenny Feeney, Colin Staunton, Declan Gallagher (0-2 ) ).
Ref: S Granahan.