This evening’s meeting of Mayo and NUIG in McHale Park in the home final of the FBD League will bring together two of the men who put their name in the hat for the Mayo manager’s job last year. James Horan was the choice at the end of the search to fill the spot left vacant by John O’Mahony, but John Maughan who is now over the students was right in the running until he decided to withdraw from the race not long before the finish.
This evening’s encounter promises to be one with a great interest for Mayo supporters, with a number of Mayo players lining out for the students. Alan Dillon, Peadar Gardiner and Neil Douglas who all got game time in the green and red last Saturday night against Down will be doing their best to see off the challenge of their county men. They will be joined by the likes of Jason Doherty who has been in great form in this competition, Kieran Conroy, Ronan Rochford and Ger McDonnagh who will also be taking to the field against their home county.
So far in the FBD League James Horan has shuffled the deck in each game to give him and his backroom team a good look at all that is on offer in the county. He has kept that up for tonight’s game with Robert Hennelly getting his first start of the season in goal after being involved with DCU in the O’Byrne Cup previously. David Killeen comes in at full back with Chris Barrett one of the corners. Cathal Hallinan moves from full back to the corner from last weekend’s game against Down. The half back line is a complete change from last week with Lee Keegan and Ruadiri O’Connor flanking Keith Higgins. The midfield also sees two old faces return with Tom Parsons partnering Barry Moran. Andy Moran will captain the side from the number 11 spot with Aidan Campbell and Andrew Farrell either side of him. Aidan Kilcoyne replaces Alan Freeman in the full forward line, with hot shots Enda Varley and Mark Ronaldson keeping their spots in the corners.
With the prize of a trip to New York for the winning team to face New York in the away final in the autumn, there is a lot at stake for both sides. With Mayo facing into back-to-back games against Kerry in McHale Park and away to Galway in the Allianz league in the next few weeks, James Horan will be keeping a very close eye on how his players perform for both sides tonight. The action gets under way under the lights in McHale Park this evening at 7.30pm.
Derby date for Murt’s Mayo
The National League will start for another Mayo team this Sunday, far away from the glare of floodlights and live television coverage. But just like the footballers it will be a new beginning for the Mayo senior hurling team this Sunday. After a couple of years of flying high in the Christy Ring cup and acquitting themselves very well in division 3A of the National League, things fell apart a bit last year. The management team of Martin Brennan and Pete Finnerty felt they had brought the side as far as they could and stepped aside. After a long search Murt Connelly was appointed the Mayo manager only a couple of weeks ago and from here on in it starts to get real. On Sunday at 2.30pm Connelly will send a Mayo side out into competitive action for the first time when Roscommon make the short journey to Torreen in the opening round of division 3B of the national hurling league. Galway native Connelly has been able to run the rule over his side in a number of challenge games over the past few weeks. The most recent of these was a one point defeat to Armagh last weekend in Offaly. Mayo were well behind early on in that contest trailing by 2-5 to 0-1 after 20 minutes but they managed to turn things around and put just the minimum between the sides at the end. Mayo had to line out last weekend without the services of Aiden Connolly, Michael Morley, Conor Ryan and Cathal Freeman which gave Connolly an opportunity to have a look at some other faces before he makes his decision on the starting 15 for Sunday’s league opener.
Sunday’s game will also be a big occasion for all of those involved in Tooreen. After a number of years of development by the club which has included a new club house, a hurling wall, and gym, it will be the first National League game to take place in one of the heartlands of hurling in Mayo. The new stand at the pitch will be officially opened before throw in on Sunday. The game will take place at 2.30pm on Sunday and admission is only €5 for adults and u16s go free.
Dempsey’s u21s look to down the Rebels
The Mayo u21 footballers will keep up their preparation for the oncoming championship with a game against Cork in Claremorris on Saturday. The Rebels and Mayo will be playing for the Michael McDonnell Memorial Cup at 2pm on Saturday. In what will be a day of celebration for the club, legendary broadcaster Michael O’Muircheartaigh will open the new club house in Claremorris after the game.