The Mayo senior hurlers have their first competitive outing of the season with a home game to near neighbours Roscommon this Sunday, February 24, at 2pm in Elverys McHale Park. This is their first game under recently appointed manager Christy Phillips who is hoping to start the League campaign with a win. Phillips and his backroom team of Ciaran Hynes (Westport ), Austin Kenny (Tooreen ), and Sean Malee (Kiltimagh ) have been fine-tuning their preparations for the League since the first week in January, training three times a week at the 3G Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan and playing a number of challenge games. The hurlers received a major boost over the past few weeks with the return of Westport’s Aiden Connolly to the panel. Connolly was Mayo’s stand out player last season and his arrival will be a major boost to Mayo’s full backline. Mayo will be looking for strong performances from seasoned campaigners Donal O’Brien, Pa Connell, Shane Morley, Derek McDonnell, Kenny Feeney, and Brian Hunt. Relative newcomers to the panel Ciaran Finn, David Kenny, Adrian Guiry, and Colin Staunton will also be hoping to impress. The match day panel will also be bolstered by the return of All-Star Keith Higgins and football panellist Cathal Freeman.
Roscommon under manager Seamus Qualter should provide a very stern test for the home side. They competed in the Bord na Móna Kehoe Shield final last Sunday losing by two points against Down despite dominating for most of the game. Roscommon will be looking to Gerry Fallon and All-Ireland u21B winner Naos Connaughton to build on their success of last year.
Mayo and Roscommon are playing in a very competitive Division 2B of the Allianz National Hurling League this year featuring 2012 Christy Ring Cup winners London, Meath, Armagh, and Down. Both western teams will be hoping to retain their positions within the division and use it as a springboard to the Christy Ring and Nick Rackard cups which commence on May 4.