Second time lucky for hurlers

GAA: National Hurling League

Ready for action: Mayo's Derek McDonnell will face off with Kerry this weekend. Photo:Sportsfile

Ready for action: Mayo's Derek McDonnell will face off with Kerry this weekend. Photo:Sportsfile

It was a long way to go last weekend to find out there was no game to play. But that is what happened to the Mayo senior hurling team as they attempted to open their National Hurling League division three challenge for 2010. “I’m disappointed of course, we were looking forward to a good challenge in our opening game so we could hit the ground running for this weekend’s match, but it wasn’t to be I guess,” said Martin Brennan, who is back on board with Pete Finnerty as Mayo’s management team for 2010. Last weekend’s game against Armagh has now been pencilled for Saturday March 6 at 2.30pm in Crossmaglen. But Mayo will not be travelling up the night before this time according to Brennan. “We’ll be going up and down the next time on the day, we travelled up the night before the last time because we had a number of new faces in the side and we wanted to use it as a bonding exercise for them with some of the older lads.”

With the Armagh debacle put behind them it is all hands on deck for the visit of Kerry this weekend to McHale Park on Sunday. “It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, they went all the way up to Derry last weekend and scored 3-13 against a good side. So we know what we are up against. But we have a good record against them in McHale Park over the last number of years,” he said.

A good run in the league is something that Brennan is hopeful of getting under his side’s belts this year before the assault on the Christy Ring Cup begins in earnest in the summertime. “We’re really looking to have a good cut at the league this year, we’ve started very slowly in it the past few years and it’s led to us having a long lay off between the end of it and the start of the championship, so if we can get into the knock out rounds it would have us in good shape ahead of the Christy Ring Cup.”

Westport hurler Conor Ryan has taken over the captain’s armband for the year and Brennan is in no doubt that he has made the right choice in this regard. “Conor had a great year last year and was recognised in him being picked on the Christy Ring Cup team of the year last year. He’s fiercely committed on the field and will be a great leader of the lads out there.”

As for his own future at the end of the campaign last year, Brennan and his partner Pete Finnerty announced their intentions to walk away from the post, but now they are back again and it was not too hard a decision to make. “At the end of the year we had said we were leaving but we left it kind of open ended and we were asked by the board to come back for another year so we decided to give it another cut for the year,” Brennan said. “Reaching two Christy Ring Cup semi-finals in a row was a good achievement, but the possibility is there to always go that one step further and get to the final and win it, which is something we’re aiming at.”


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