There was a lot to like about Mayo’s opening round NHL meeting with Derry last Sunday.
First, it was great to see a Mayo team in action again. The main focus here on the blog is, I know, on the football but the hurlers deserve some attention too and it was nice that they led us off this year, in the process becoming the first Mayo side to wear the new jersey in a competitive fixture.
Second, it was a joy to see Keith Higgins (pictured above) in the thick of the small ball action. Lining out at full-forward, following all those years in the full-back line in football, he definitely had the air of the gamekeeper turned poacher about him. I’d say he’s going to have a whale of a time this year and good luck to him too.
Next, it was really good to see the team dig out the win in difficult circumstances. With Derry coming at them in waves, aided by that strong wind at their backs, it looked as if there was no way Derek Walsh’s team would hold out but hold out they did. That win could prove very important for them in this campaign and it sets the tone nicely for the challenges that await them this year, in particular in the Rackard Cup this summer.
Finally, what about that point by goalkeeper Gerald Kelly – has there ever been a more spectacular effort knocked over the bar at MacHale Park? For certain no-one has ever raised a white flag from that distance before. If you haven’t seen the score yet, then feast your eyes on it:
There’s more on this remarkable score in a piece for the Western People by Adrian Hession, Mayo’s hurling GPO – here.
Next up for the hurlers in the NHL Division 2B is a trip to Dr Hyde Park to take on Roscommon, a team smarting after having lost out in a narrow encounter away to Donegal last time out. That game – which throws in at 2pm on Saturday, exactly the same time as the footballers get underway against Down in Castlebar – will be another stiff test for our lads but they’ll certainly go into it in good spirits. The best of luck to them then.