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The spoils went to Tooreen in MacHale Park on Sunday, but Castlebar Mitchels left the contest with more than just their heads held high after pushing the Blue Devils all the way in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final.
After last weekends defeat to Tyrone this was a must win game for Mayo if they were going to have any chance of progressing in the Nicky Rackard Cup.
The Mayo senior hurlers will play the second of four games in as many weeks on Sunday, when they welcome Antrim to James Stephens Park on Sunday afternoon.
There has been a massive turn around in the fortunes of the Mayo hurlers in the past few months.
On Sunday afternoon the Mayo senior hurlers will be looking to claim the National Hurling League division 2B crown in Cavan.
Hurling is a game of inches, an inch this way and that way can decide the outcome of a game, be it from a shot for a score or a ball that slips just past a hand and there was just a matter of a few inches between Mayo and Kildare on the scoreboard and the field in this Christy Ring Cup first round clash.
The Mayo hurlers get their National Hurling League campaign under way this Sunday when Derry visit MacHale Park at 2pm. In their last competitive game in 2016 Mayo defeated Derry to gain promotion back to the Christy Ring Cup and send the Oak Leaf county men back down to the Nicky Rackard Cup for this season.
With nine minutes left to go, Mayo pulled themselves level with Meath in Semple Stadium and the game hung firmly in the balance as a brave Mayo led by the excellent Fergal Boland put themselves in with a shot of claiming the Richie McElligott Cup. But over the closing stretch of the game Meath found a second wind to power home to a deserved win, even if the scoreline was a bit flattering to them as Mayo left plenty of gaps at the back as they went chasing the game in the final few minutes.
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.
Mayo started and finished with a bang in Croke Park on Saturday night as the claimed the Nicky Rackard Cup at the first time of asking. At times it looked like it was going away from them in the early stages of the second half, but JP Coen’s men gutted it out and ran out deserved four point winners.