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Mayo u21 manager Niall Heffernan got his sophomore year in charge of the inter-county team at this grade of football off to a winning start last Saturday. Mayo opened up their Hastings Cup campaign with a 3-7 to 0-5 win over the Lake County men in Tubberclair. Heffernan and his backroom team will be looking this year to reverse what has been a poor half-a-decade for Mayo at this level, not since the last of a four-in-a-row of Connacht titles put together by the current senior management team of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes in 2009 have Mayo managed to win or even compete in a Connacht final.
Not to long ago the list of Mayo’s walking wounded looked like it could not only derail James Horan’s stated aim of going for league title, but could have made the first step in achieving that goal, being in with a chance of making the semi-final, very difficult. After Mayo lost out to Tyrone in Omagh a few weeks ago, Horan pointed out that he was short some 20 players due to injury and club-commitments. But the past few weeks have seen that number come right down with only Alan Dillon and Chris Barrett on the long term list, and Cillian O’Connor very close to a return to action, according to the Mayo boss after last weekend’s victory over Kerry in MacHale Park. The Castlebar Mitchels contingent are still concentrating on club duty ahead of St Patrick’s Day.
The Lake County’s top heritage and tourist attractions will be more accessible to visitors through a brand new free app launched in Mullingar this week.
Carlow champions Mount Leinster Rangers have certainly done their bit to put Carlow hurling on the map having been deservedly crowned Leinster club champions last Sunday.
Former Dublin midfielder Paul Bealin has been appointed to replace Pat Flanagan as manager of the Lake County’s senior footballers.
The fixture gods deemed it fitting that Mayo would have to face Donegal in the senior quarter-final on Sunday afternoon, however they weren’t so kind as to place the county’s minor side on the same billing. Instead Enda Gilvarry’s men will be the opening act of a double bill of minor quarter finals in O’Connor Park in Tullamore on Monday afternoon, while the Kerry minors have been given the matinee slot in Croke Park the day before against Tyrone. However Mayo minor manager Enda Gilvarry isn’t complaining and is just looking forward to getting on with the job in hand. “To a certain extent we can't control the day and venue, any pitch is the same. It would have been nice to be with the seniors but it wasn't to be. It's the same for Westmeath, they would have looked forward to playing a quarter-final in Croke Park the same as we were.”
Disappointment and dismay were the order of the day as Westmeath hurlers and footballers both tasted their last bit of action in this year’s all-Ireland championships last Saturday. Whatever about our hurlers who were punching above their weight, general expectation was that our footballers would have enough in the tank to be included in the draw for the next round of the qualifiers which took place last Monday morning.
Westmeath hurlers will be taking nothing for granted when they make the trip to Ruislip to take on London in the preliminary round of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers on Saturday at 3.30pm. Brian Hanley has stressed that London will be no pushovers with home advantage and the addition of several new players to their ranks an obvious concern for the Westmeath manager.
All roads lead to Croke Park this Sunday as Westmeath square up to Derry in the division 2 league final at 2pm. Dublin take on Tyrone in the division 1 final at 4pm but Lake County supporters will be hoping to be celebrating a fourth division 2 title at that stage.
The team behind Festival of the Fires are keeping the flame burning this May bank holiday weekend when they host a spectacular two-day Gathering at Uisneach at the Uisneach Inn, located at the foothill of the Hill of Uisneach in Killare, Co Westmeath.