Royal challenge next up for hurlers

GAA: National Hurling League

Royal Challenge: Meath are next up for the Mayo hurlers. Photo:Sportsfile

Royal Challenge: Meath are next up for the Mayo hurlers. Photo:Sportsfile

The Mayo senior hurling team will be looking to make it two wins from two in Elverys MacHale Park when Meath come to town. Last Sunday Mayo got their National Hurling League Division 2B campaign off to a winning start when they had eight points to spare over Donegal in Letterkenny, while Meath went down by 10 points to Kildare in Trim on a scoreline of 0-24 to 0-14.

For the Donegal clash JP Coen selected the same side who had won a challenge game against Galway outfit Craughwell the week before, when he had to do without a number of dual players, with Keith Higgins pulling out due to a knee problem the day before and Tooreen duo Sean Regan and David Kenny in an u21 football training camp along with Ballyhaunis man Morgan Lyons.

Mayo’s victory was based on a brace of goals from Ballyhaunis player Brian Hunt, shortly after the turnaround when they were leading by just a single point. Mayo scored 2-2 without response in a short period to turn their slim advantage into a nine point lead, from which Donegal were never able to recover.

Mayo’s other goal came from Eoghan Collins who pulled on the ball on the ground to send it to the back of the net after being set up by Kenny Feeney.

Hunt contributed 2-4 over the course of the contest with Fergal Boland chipping in with three points from play, while Kenny Feeney bagged two points from frees. In total nine players got on the scoreboard for Mayo with all six forwards contributing scores over the 70 minutes.

Mayo manager JP Coen last week stated that he hoped his side would manage to get 20 scores in a game, while they fell three scores short of that total last weekend, the three goals they hit and their ability to take the game by the throat when it was there to be won is something with which he will have been very pleased.

Meath will come to Castlebar with their pride dented after last Sunday’s opening round loss to last year’s Christy Ring Cup winners Kildare at home. The Lilywhites ran out 10 point winners and it could have been more had Meath goalkeeper Charlie Bird not pulled off a string of good saves. Meath trailed by seven points at half time on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-6 and were never able to reel in the Lilywhites who kept them at arms length in the second half. The majority of Meath’s scoring came from full forward Anthony Healy who contributed seven points over the course of the game, six from frees.

The last time these sides met was in the round-robin stages of the Christy Ring Cup last May, with the Royal County hanging on for a narrow win over Mayo that time out. The game was decided by an injury time free from Meath captain Stephen Clynch, with Mayo having one last chance to level the game up right at the death, but Sean Regan’s sideline cut did not have the required trajectory. Seven of Mayo’s starting 15 for last Sunday’s game (Donal O’Brien, Aiden Connolly, Adrian Brennan, Gary Nolan, Brian Hunt, Fergal Boland, Kenny Feeney ) all started in that game, with two more of last weekends starters (Eoghan Collins and Stephen Hoban ) coming off the bench during the match. A win on Sunday would set up JP Coen’s men nicely before the league goes into a two week recess, before Mayo’s next game at home to Down on Sunday March 8. Throw in on Sunday is at 2pm in Elverys MacHale Park.


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