Fresh off the back of their defeat in the National Hurling League Division 3B final last weekend, the Mayo senior hurling team will be in action in the Christy Ring Cup on Saturday afternoon against Wicklow in McHale Park. Having won their first five games on the trot, Mayo lost their last two and it was a disappointing end to the league according to Mayo manager Murt Connolly. “It was a disappointing end of the league, we didn’t finish off as we would have liked to, maybe the wins we had early on built in some complacency no matter how hard we try to guard against it.”
While he is disappointed with the loss last weekend, Connolly is hopeful that Mayo can turn it around against a team who won the Division 3A league final last Saturday. “We kept fighting in the final last weekend right until the end, we had a couple of goal chances in the first half which we didn’t take which cost us at the final whistle, but it’s a learning experience for the lads. Wicklow are going to be another step up in competition on Saturday, they are a good side an put up a very big score last weekend.” While the Mayo defence played well overall there was some indiscipline further out the field which cost Mayo from placed balls. “Yah, the backs actually did very well, but we gave away a number of silly long range frees which Roscommon punished us from, it was a bit of lads panicking and not thinking right, we’ll be looking to stamp that out for Saturday, because we know it could cost us a lot of scores if we don’t.”
Mayo were missing Keith Higgins through injury last week, but Connolly is hoping that the Ballyhaunis man will make it back for this championship game. “Keith is an absolutely superb hurler, any team would miss him from their side, he brings so much to the team. He’s still a major doubt but we are giving him every chance to make it back for Saturday. The injury (hamstring ) is a tricky one because it can look to have cleared up and then go again five or ten minutes into the game, so we have to be very careful about that call. We missed him the last day, but in fairness to all the lads none of them mentioned it after as a reason we lost.”
Moving on from playing Roscommon last week to face a side who have booked their place in division two of the National Hurling League for next year is going to be a huge task for Mayo, but Connolly is looking forward to taking it on. “Sure it’ll be a big challenge and harder test for us than we have had this year, but we’ll be going out there giving it our all and having a right go at it. Playing better teams makes the lads better players, but we won’t be afraid of them, we’ll go out and give it a good go.” Connolly is also hoping to welcome back Aidan Connolly to the side from injury for Saturday’s championship game.