Mayo’s hurlers got their Rackard Cup campaign off to the best possible start this afternoon. Trailing Donegal at O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny for much of the game, they struck late via a goal from Keith Higgins and won by three points, on a scoreline of 2-14 to 0-17.
My focus was elsewhere while this game was being played, though I did manage to keep an eye on how the scoring was going up in Letterkenny. For much of the game it was Donegal who had their noses in front but, in truth, there was little between the teams throughout.
Donegal had the aid of a stiff enough breeze in the first half and with half an hour played it looked like they had made decent use of the wind, as they led by four. This was despite having shot a number of wides.
It was then, though, that the visitors broke through for their first goal. Adrian Phillips got it and a quick flurry of points at either end left two between the sides at the break.
Donegal – victors over Mayo in last year’s Rackard Cup final as well as in this year’s NHL – maintained their narrow advantage as the second half progressed. By the second water break, though, the sides were level and this now had the look of a game that could go either way.
The home side steadied themselves early in the final quarter, however, and when they pushed three ahead with five minutes of normal time left they now seemed set to close out the win.
A goal effort by Gary Nolan was batted away but Keith Higgins nailed the resultant ’65. Donegal responded, though, with a point by McDermott and when Coulter pointed they were three in front again.
A mix-up in the Donegal backline provided a goal chance for Keith Higgins. He didn’t need a second invite and the three-pointer hauled us level as the game entered what proved to be a protracted amount of injury time.
Three further scores were recorded in injury time, all of them for the visitors. The first two came from Shane Boland, with a free from Keith providing the final touch to a three-point win.
So it’s a perfect start for the hurlers in this year’s Rackard Cup campaign. Next up for them is a home match against Leitrim at MacHale Park next Saturday.