After the disappointment of 2015 for hurling in the county when the senior team were relegated out of the Christy Ring Cup, this year has seen a rebirth of the game in the county, with the senior side winning the Nicky Rackard Cup in Croke Park and making their way back to the Ring Cup for next year.
Tomorrow afternoon in the home of hurling the Mayo u21s are looking to cap a memorable season when they take part in the All Ireland u21B final with the Richie McElligot Cup up for grabs in Semple Stadium. Standing in their way is a fancied Meath side, but Mayo come into the game full of confidence on the back of impressive wins over Kildare and Roscommon in their last two games.
The short sprint of this competition, saw Mayo get a walkover from Sligo before dismantling Roscommon in a one-sided Connacht final, but with both sides getting quarter final spots the Rossies were still in the competition. Mayo then had to dig out a tough win against Kildare in Newbridge in the last eight against a much fancied side, before they edged out Roscommon again in a terrible conditions in Castlebar in the semi-final to book their place in tomorrow's game.
The side is backboned by half a dozen of the side who won the Rackard Cup with the seniors with Fergal Boland, Davog Freyne, David Harrision, Sean Mulroy, David Kenny and Corey Scahill all tasting success in Croke Park earlier this year. Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser ahead of the final,Scahill was full of praise for all involved in the u21 set up. "It's a special group of lads everyone puts in the hard work, everyone wants to be part of it and involved on the field on the day. There are 30 or 40 lads who could have been involved in Mayo and that's great."
Having won All Ireland titles at C level when they were minors the step up to B is something that they adapted to well and Scahill believes they would have done well if they were at that grade when they were u18s. "To be honest, a lot of us would have felt if we were in the B division when we were minor we could have done something good in it. It's good to be able to show people that what we're doing in hurling in Mayo is working, we put in a lot of work and this is the reward, but it's down to us to go out and show people what we can do."
Getting to play in Croke Park is what all young players dreams of, but for hurlers, Semple Stadium in Tipperary holds an even more special significance and the UL student is relishing getting out on the field there. He's already had a little bit of time on the field there this summer he told us, "I had the privilege of being down there this year working and I know a fella who hurls with Tipp' and he got me in and I had a few pucks and hit a few frees it was great. It wasn't anything to do with planning on being back there, but was just an opportunity I was delighted to take, it's great to be going back now and having the chance to go and play in an All Ireland final there."