While the footballers have been doing the business on the field picking up two wins from their opening games in the national league, it is now the hurlers’ time to go into competitive action this weekend. Martin Brennan and Pete Finnerty are back on board for this year following initial murmuring that they were not going to take charge of the side again following their exit from the Christy Ring Cup at the semi final stage last term.
Mayo did not enter the Keogh Cup in Lenister this term as they have done for the last few years as a pre season warm up, instead concentrating on a number of challenge games locally against Sligo, Monaghan and Donegal as they head into this year’s league. Mayo start off this year away to Armagh before they take on Kerry, Derry, and London at home and Meath away between now and March 27.
This weekend Mayo make the long trip to Crossmaglen to take on the Orchard county in the league opener with a throw in time of 2.30pm. The Mayo managment team have made six changes to the side that exited the Christy Ring Cup at the hands of Down at the semi-final stage. Donal O’Brien will make his competitive debut between the posts, along side new fullback Kevin Moran and full forward Ronan Cullinane. The Tooreen duo of Shane Morley and Stephen Hunt come back into the side after spending a year away travelling last year, while Ballyhaunis attacker Niall Murphy has made his way back into the starting 15. Keith Higgins who has lined out the last few weeks with the footballers is also available for Brennan and Finnerty this weekend and will start at right half forward, however his brother Pierce has not rejoined the panel yet, but is expected to in the coming weeks. Last season Mayo had a very poor run in the league in comparison to the high standards they had set for themselves the previous year, winning only two of their five games and coming second last in the division but avoiding relegation. This term both managment and players a like will be looking for a far better showing in the early season competition as they look to go one better at least than the last two seasons where they reached the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup, before coming up just short of reaching the final. This Sunday will also see the first time that all players have to wear a helmet on the field under new rules.
Mayo v Armagh: Donal O’Brien; Brian Higgins, Kevin Moran, Shane Morley; Eoghan Madigan, Paddy Barrett, Conor Ryan; Derek McConn, Stephen Hunt; Keith Higgins, Derek McDonnell, David Dowling; Niall Murphy, Ronan Cullinane, Martin Devaney.