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Mayo u21 manager Niall Heffernan admitted after his sides win over Wicklow in the third round of the Hastings Cup in Ballina on Saturday, that it can be tough at times trying to get his squad together at this stage of the year as demands are placed on his players from a number of teams.
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.
I took in all three county finals last weekend at McHale Park. Saturday’s Intermediate final between Westport and Tourmakeady was played in atrocious conditions. What a shame that a final had to be played during an evening when sheets of rain and high winds made a lottery of the result. I thought it might have been cancelled and played on Bank Holiday Monday. Apparently, had the game ended in a draw, the replay was scheduled for Monday as the Connacht Intermediate club championship is fixed for this weekend. I am sure both teams would have been more than happy to a rescheduling with extra time being played if necessary. The pitch would also have been saved from the battering it got and would have been in better shape for our big showcase games on Sunday. Martin Connolly, the Westport manager, must have been seriously concerned last Saturday morning when he realised that the final was to be played in a storm. His Westport team are young and light and playing in such conditions against the bigger, stronger, experienced Tourmakeady lads was an advantage conceded. He shouldn’t have worried too much as his charges were that bit fitter and sharper around the field than their opponents and they appeared to get to grips with the awful conditions a little bit better. Playing against the wind in the first half they managed to score two goals which gave them the cushion of a lead at half time when they might have expected to have trailed by a few scores. ‘ Do not concede a goal in the second half’ might have been the chat in the ‘Covey’ dressing room at half time and they would be home and dry (well the first part anyway)! They did that and successfully and manfully weathered the storm as Tourmakeady threw the kitchen sink at them in the closing minutes. Ultimately their success was deserved as I felt they were the better team on the day.