The Mayo senior hurlers head east on Sunday looking to pick up a win that will get their National Hurling League campaign back on track following their opening round loss to Derry in MacHale Park last Sunday afternoon. JP Coen's men were felled by the Oak Leaf county by the smallest of margins with the visitors running out winners on a scoreline of 1-14 to 1-13.
When the sides met in last year's league, Wicklow came out on top on a score of 2-14 to 0-13 in Castlebar in round four, that win brought to an end an impressive winning run that had seen Mayo take the scalps of Down, Meath, and Donegal in their opening three games. Last weekend Wicklow saw off the challenge of Roscommon in Athleague on a score of 2-17 to 0-7, with Christy Moorehouse bagging 1-7 for his side. When Mayo and Wicklow met last season, Moorehouse was once again to the fore bagging seven points for Wicklow in that win. Another man that Mayo will have to watch our for on Sunday is Andy O'Brien who chipped in with 1-2 against Roscommon, while Anthony Byrne finished up four points from play for the Leinister men.
Last weekend, JP Coen started nine of the side that had lined out in Mayo's last competitive game, the Christy Ring Cup promotion play-off against the same opposition. Fergal Boland was on duty with the Mayo footballers the night before, while Keith Higgins who didn't play in that Derry game was also tied up on football duty. Last year's goalkeeper Donal O'Brien has retired while Ciaran Charlton has not been able to commit this year and Mayo also lost the services of tidy corner back Eoghan Collins, who opted to play football with Clare this year in the McGrath Cup. But Coen was still able to put out an experienced side with Brian Hunt and Ger McManus making up a two thirds of the full back line, with Cathal Freeman and David Kenny in situ in the half-back roster. Five of the Mayo forwards who started that promotion final also featured, with Joe McManus, Cory Scahill, Sean Regan, Darren McTigue and Kenny Feeney all in action from the start for Mayo.
Mayo trailed last weekend at the break by four points on a scoreline of 1-8 to 0-7, with the Derry goal coming from the penalty spot byway of the hurl of Ruari Convery and they stretched out their lead to six points in the second half. Mayo closed the gap back to just one, thanks to late points from Feeney and Joe McManus and the cut the gap to just one thanks to an injury time goal from Brian Hunt, but it was too little too late. This Sunday represents another big test for Coen and his team.