It has not gone to plan for the Mayo senior hurlers so far this season, last weekend they were beaten by Down by 17 points in MacHale Park, with the Ulster men running out 2-23 to 0-12 winners of JP Coen's charges. That defeat was the third straight loss suffered by Mayo this season, following defeats to Wicklow and Derry in the opening two rounds of the competition.
This weekend it is not going to get any easier for them, they host a Meath side who have two wins under their belts already this season after beating both Derry and Down with ease. Both of those wins came in very emphatic fashion when they put 4-21 on the scoreboard against Down and 2-19 was their return against Derry. Meath's game last weekend against Roscommon was postponed due to the weather.
Mayo held their own in the early stages of the game last weekend and were level at 0-6 to 0-6 after 20 minutes, with sharpshooter Kenny Feeney keeping them in the contest, but once Malachy Magree rattled the back of Davog Freyne's net the Mourne county men took complete control of the contest and went in leading 1-11 to 0-9 at the turnaround. While the gap was not an insurmountable one, the fact that Mayo were only able to add three scores in the second half is one that will have given them plenty of food for thought over the past week. Even more worrying was their scoring return from play, with just two points from Joe McManus (one in each half ) coming from open field action, and the other, with Feeney adding 10 minors from placed balls over the 70 minutes.
Mayo hit the ground running last season and had three wins from three from their opening games and they used that as a springboard to great success later on in the year in the championship. This season they will be playing at higher grade in the championship and performances like last weekend's will not cut it. After this weekend's encounter with Meath, they face Roscommon in Athleague on Sunday, March 26, in the final group game, with both sides likely to face off again the following week in the relegation play-off to see who will be dropping down to division 3A for next season, something Mayo will badly want to avoid.