Niall Heffernan’s Mayo u21 footballers picked up their second win on the bounce in group three of the Hastings Cup in James Stephens Park, Ballina last Saturday, with a comfortable win over Monaghan. Tomorrow afternoon in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence they will wrap up the group stages of the competition with the visit of Wicklow. The Garden County men picked up their first win in the competition last Saturday, when they saw off the challenge of Westmeath in Blessington thanks to a 3-5 to 0-9 win.
Last Saturday Heffernan made six starting changes from the side that beat Westmeath in the opening round of the competition with Kevin Lynch, Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane, Adam Gallagher, James Quinn, and Aidan O'Sullivan coming into the starting 15. Both Coen and Gallagher are back in situ with Heffernan’s side after being on senior duty the previous weekend, with Patrick Durcan and Michael Hall going in the opposite direction last weekend lining out with Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes’ senior team in the FBD League.
Tomorrow’s game will offer Heffernan another opportunity to have a look at a number of players vying for inclusion in his plans for the championship coming up in March. Going on the two games they have played so far it’s going to be a tough task for Heffernan, with a number of players putting up their hands for a starting place against Leitrim in two months’ time. Last weekend, the half-back line of Cian Burke, Stephen Coen and Sean Regan were very impressive against Monaghan, while two more members of the u21 panel, Michael Hall and Patrick Durcan, put in good showings for the senior side against IT Sligo in the FBD League. Matthew Ruane was impressive partnering Val Roughneen in the middle to the park, with the Balla man putting in a very good shift. The previous week Diarmuid O’Connor was the man partnering Roughneen in the middle of the park, while O’Connor could move into the half-foward line last Saturday’s trio of TJ Byrne, Adam Gallagher and James Durcan were a very good unit. Having a number of top quality players all battling it out for a place in the team is the kind of headache that any manager would want to be dealing with, and all things going to plan Heffernan will have at least another game in the knock-out stages of the Hastings Cup to give even more players a chance to shine. Throw-in tomorrow is at 2pm in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan.