The last time that both these sides met was in the blistering sunshine in Carrick on Shannon in the National Hurling League Division 3B final last April. But despite blitzing their way though the league stages of the competition where they beat Roscommon in Tooreen on the first day of the league Mayo came up short in the final by two points.
Mayo have made the step up from Division 3B to 2B this year alongside Roscommon thanks to their appearance in last year’s league final. Alongside the men in primrose and blue they will be squaring up against Meath, Kildare, Armagh and London. They will be making a trip across the Irish Sea as part of the campaign to take on the exiles in Ruislip at the tail end of March.
This year’s campaign will be Murt Connelly’s second year in charge of the side. Everything looked to be going exactly to plan for Connolly early last year in the league, but Mayo hit the rocks in their final league game away to Monaghan and never recovered for the final against Roscommon, and that continued into the Christy Ring Cup where defeats to Wicklow and Kildare put paid to their interest in the championship, before summer had really begun last year.
Once again Mayo will be looking towards dual star Keith Higgins to lead them on the field, he has been given the captain’s role by Connelly for this year. It will once again be a balancing act for Higgins who will have to trade between the football team and hurlers who have a number of games clashing over the league campaign. When Higgins is unavailable it will be left to the likes of Shane Morley, who was named on the Christy Ring Cup team of the year for 2011 last year, Brian Hunt, Kenny Feeney, Cathal Freeman, and others to lead the line for the green and red. It all starts on Sunday with a trip to Athleague to take on Roscommon, with Meath coming to McHale Park on Sunday, March 11, as a curtain raiser for the clash of the football team with Down. Then a trip to the Morgan Athletic grounds for a game with Armagh on Sunday, March 18. The following Saturday it is the trip to London, before the league rounds off with a visit from Kildare to McHale Park on April Fool’s day. The league final is down for two weeks after that date. Mayo will then open their Christy Ring campaign with a visit from Down on Saturday May 5 to McHale Park.
Club championship draw on Monday night
The draws for the Mayo senior, intermediate, and junior championships will take place this Monday night. The groupings for the 16 team senior and intermediate championships along with the junior and junior B championships will get under way at 8pm in Breaffy House Hotel. Ballintubber will be going for three in a row this year in the senior championship with Peter Ford managing them for 2012, while Castlebar Mitchels will be looking to make it third time lucky this year having lost in the last two finals.
Hurling coaching course
An Award 1 (Youth ) hurling coaching course commences next Monday, February 27, at 7pm in McHale Park, Castlebar. The course is 14 hours long over four nights and is for anyone who has done the Foundation Award Hurling Coaching Course already, and wishes to further his/her coaching qualifications. The course will take place on Monday February 27, Wednesday February 29, Monday, March 5, and Wednesday March 7. The price of the course is €50 - payable on the opening night. All club/school and academy coaches who are coaching teams in 2012 and who have not done this already, are advised to sign up. It is the aim that every hurling team in Mayo at every age group will have an Award 1 standard coach over them by the end of the year. To book your place, either email [email protected] or phone 087 2450566 for further information.
Mayo teams take part in Páidi Ó Sé Comórtas
Mayo teams Castlebar Mitchels and Achill will compete at the Tayto Longford Arms Comórtas Peile Páidi Ó Sé 2012 in association with Lee Strand Milk, an invitational ladies’ and men’s GAA football tournament which will take place from February 24 to 26. Now in its 23rd year, the comórtas has expanded this year to include 26 senior, intermediate, and junior GAA club teams from 15 counties and the greater London area, competing over the weekend across eight match venues in west Kerry.