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After a 10 year absence from the top of the tree in Mayo hurling, the most decorated hurling side in the history of the county, Tooreen, are looking to cap their year with a Connacht title on Sunday.
They have been here before so often, and while familiarity can lead to things becoming stale, there will be nothing stale about the action on the field on Sunday when Ballyhaunis and Torreen get to grips with each other in the Mayo senior hurling final. The game which throws in at 3pm in Ballyhaunis has the makings of another classic, both of these giants of Mayo hurling have been the standard bearers for the small game in the county for decades now.
According to the AA route finder only 4.9 miles separate Tooreen and Ballyhaunis from each other. On Saturday afternoon Tooreen will make that short trip to face their neighbours in the county senior hurling final at 4pm. Tooreen were the standard bearers of Mayo hurling for a long time before the past decade which has seen Ballyhaunis steal their mantle as hurling kings of Mayo. The Ballyhaunis men will be appearing in their seventh final in succession and will be looking for their fifth title in six years, their four in a row bid was stopped last year by James Stephen’s Ballina, who themselves were dispatched from the competition by Tooreen last weekend in a semi-final replay.
For the second in row Mayo started off the National League with a defeat at the hands of Derry, this time in James Stephen’s Park last Sunday. While both sides hit 10 scores the decisive score of the game came from Derry debutant James Kielt 45 minutes into the contest, who got on the end of move that came about as Tom Cunniffe lost possession trying to break out of defence.
Having previously announced that they would be stepping aside at the end of this season, the carrot of playing in next season’s All Ireland senior championship would tempt Mayo management team of Martin Brennan and Pete Finnerty to stay on for another season according to Brennan. Standing in Mayo’s way of achieving that goal are seven other sides and the competition will begin in earnest this weekend.
The whirlwind nature of this year’s Christy Ring Cup continues a pace this Saturday when Mayo make the long trip to Newry to take on Down. Mayo having reached their second semi-final in the tier two competition in two years will be looking to go one better tomorrow (June 6) after losing out to Carlow at the death last season in McHale Park.
The first of the major adult county titles will be given out on Saturday when Tooreen host Ballyhaunis in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final, with the TJ Tyrell Cup at stake. The men in red and black have been the premier force in Mayo hurling for the last decade, picking up their fifth title in seven years last year with a 0-15 to 2-7 win over their opponents. The last time Tooreen won the county title was back in 2003 and since then they have been on the coat tails of their neighbours.