Mayo opened their National Hurling League Division 3A campaign in bright winter sunshine this afternoon at MacHale Park where, in a dramatic conclusion, they scored with the last puck of the game to secure a 0-17 to 0-17 draw with neighbours Roscommon.
Shorn of the Tooreen contingent, this was an extremely experimental Mayo team, featuring players from Moytura, Caiseal Gaels, Westport, Castlebar and Ballina, as well as a sprinkling of more experienced lads from Ballyhaunis. In all, according to a photo tweeted by Mayo GAA afterwards, a total of thirteen players saw NHL action for the first time for the county today.
Despite fielding such an inexperienced pick, the lads enjoyed a positive opening half, which ended all square at seven points apiece. We briefly enjoyed a three-point lead early in the half – thanks to three pointed frees in a row from Cormack Phillips – but the visitors then bagged three without reply themselves to even it up.
Another trio of unanswered scores saw the Rossies get on top early in the second half. Midway through that period, the lead had stretched to six and a win for the visitors now looked to be on the cards.
Back we came, though, with points from Paddy Dazio, Cormack Phillips (a free) and Kealen Gallagher cutting the deficit back to more manageable proportions.
With five minutes of normal time to play, the gap was down to just one. As the clock shifted over to injury time, however, Roscommon struck for what proved to be their final point of the day but it had the look of the insurance score about it, as it increased their lead to two.
The home side weren’t, though, done yet. Another Cormack Phillips score set up a grandstand finish and right at the death his Ballyhaunis clubmate Michael Farrrell landed a monster score to claim a deserved share of the spoils.
Well done to the lads and, in particular, all those players tasting NHL action for the county for the very first time today.