Hurlers march on to Christy Ring Cup final

The county’s hurlers this afternoon made it a happy return to MacHale Park when they got the better of Derry by 2-23 to 2-18. The win confirms Mayo’s place – for the first time ever – in the final of the Christy Ring Cup. The decider takes place at Croke Park next weekend where Kildare will provide the opposition.

Today’s Round 5 clash was, to all intents and purposes, a semi-final tie, with the winners guaranteed to finish second in the table and so join Kildare in the decider. As they say, semi-finals are for winning and this keenly contested contest confirmed that, with the outcome still in the balance down the closing stretch.

Mayo would, though, have been very disappointed had they not come out on top as they had the edge on their Northern opponents for much of the afternoon. The opening quarter was tight, with scores traded at regular intervals, before Joe Mooney struck for the game’s opening goal to put the home side four points clear after 15 minutes.

A goal from Derry brought them right back into it but Mayo finished the half stronger and the lead was back out to four at the break.

Early in the second half, the lead stretched to six and it began to look like a comfortable enough passage to the Croke Park decider was now in prospect. Derry had other ideas, though, and by midway in the second period the lead was halved, with just three between them now.

That meant Mayo’s second goal, bagged by sub Kenny Feeney following a super pass from skipper Shane Boland, was a hugely important score. Once again the home team had a bit of breathing space but as normal time neared its end Derry fought back once again.

In little over two minutes, Derry bagged 1-2 without reply to cut the gap back to the minimum. To lose it now would have been cruel on Derek Walsh’s team but the Oakleafers looked to have timed their run to perfection and appeared well set to complete a smash-and-grab win.

But then the momentum swung back in Mayo’s favour. Derry wouldn’t score again before the final whistle while, at the other end, the home team calmly tacked on four unanswered points to close out a five-point win. Captain Shane Boland, top scorer for the team once again today with a haul of twelve points, bagged one of those closing scores.

Today’s victory sees the county’s hurlers continue what is by any measure a remarkable rise. Relegated to Division 3A of the NHL this spring, it seemed all but certain that they were in for a chastening Christy Ring Cup campaign, with the teams in the third tier Championship all of higher quality to the ones Mayo had lost to in the League.

A bad defeat to Kildare in Round 1 appeared to confirm this line of reasoning. Since then, though, they’ve ripped up the script and now, with victories banked over Wicklow, London, Sligo and Derry, they’ve made it to a first-ever Christy Ring Cup final.

What a turnaround in form that is for the team and, while Kildare will be raging favourites to prevail in the decider, Mayo will certainly be heading to Croke Park next weekend with serious momentum behind them.

This game wasn’t the only hurling success for the county today. A bit earlier on over at Adrian Freeman Park in Tooreen, the U17s beat Kildare in the Celtic Challenge semi-final. Like the Seniors, the U17s were to the fore for most of this game but a late fightback by the Lilywhites just came up short as the Mayo lads held on to win by a single point, on a scoreline of 2-8 to 0-13.

Well done to both Mayo teams on their wins today.

30 thoughts on “Hurlers march on to Christy Ring Cup final

  1. Comhghairdeas do foireann Mhuigeo. Go hiontach ar fad. Listened to the match on Midwest with Michael D and Frank Browne on commentary. They were excellent in commentary /analysis and nice to hear the Loch Garman accent while planting blathana on a la brea i Oilean Acla! Frank is so knowledgeable as he hails from the Faythe Harriers hurling club in baile Loch Garman where I have lived for the past 25y.
    As a former Mayo manager he knows Mayo hurling and clearly as huge supporter!
    It would be nice to hear Frank on a future Podcast WJ.
    Mile buiochas Michael D and Frank agus go neiri le foireann Mhuigeo i gconai!
    Mhuigeo agus Loch Garman Abu!

  2. I was at I think the last All Ireland B Hurling final between Mayo and Kildare which was in Croke Park as the curtain raiser to the Leinster football final replay where Paidí O’Shea made history with Westmeath beating Laois in 2005. A certain Pearse Higgins was the star that day for Mayo.

  3. Brilliant result by our hurlers and a great team performance. Well deserved.

  4. Great result by the hurler’s. I see Limerick have beaten Tipperary in football. Less chance of Mayo having to play a preliminary round.

  5. Excuse my ignorance but is the Christy Ring a level below the Liam McCarthy ? If we win it, would we be competing for the Liam McCarthy next year ?

  6. @seanie no the Christy Ring is the 3rd tier competition.Joe McDonagh is 2nd tier.

  7. Very disappointed by the lack of support for our hurlers today, barely a hundred. After all the furore about getting the game played in McHale Park so called Mayo supporters couldn’t be bothered making the effort to lend their support.

  8. Mayojoe – a lot of the furore was created by key board warriors who were using the opportunity to get at the county board rather than a genuine interest in Mayo hurling. As you said – where were all these people today who were so concerned for the Mayo hurlers having to play their games in Ballina.

  9. Ah there were more than 100 people there. But yes, I agree, it was a very poor show of support. The hurlers thoroughly deserved to play in their county ground but it was cavernous today.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the game from start to finish despite it looking like we might just lose our grasp on it near the end. Derry nearly had us on the ropes but thankfully hit a lot of wides when they could have turned the screw. Shane Boland was just outstanding. What a turnaround it’s been since the first game in the league!

    Can’t make the final due to a prior commitment on Saturday and I’m gutted. Kildare gave us an awful trimming a few weeks back, I hope it’s a different game next weekend.

  10. Well done to the lads. Hope they can push on next week. If I was in the country I’d go to it. Any Mayo team reaching a national final deserve all the support we can give them.

  11. Well done to the hurlers. Sligo seemed to push Kildare for long spells of their match today so maybe there is some hope of winning it out. Although not sure if Kildare rested players.

    Also good to see limerick win in the football. Can’t see Westmeath winning tomorrow so that should mean no preliminary qualifier to worry about.

  12. @Crete Boom,. I believe I was at the same match, myself, my ticket was for the Hogan Stand, but seeing the small but loyal band of Mayo hurling fan’s in the Cusack Stand I walked around to join them for the hurling curtain raiser hours before the main event which was Laois V Westmeath in a novel Leinster Football Final.. the year ‘a Grain of Rice’ in the words of Paudi O’Shea made the difference, I was back in my legal seat for the football final, and it was a very emotional scene as Westmeath lifted the Cup… Since then only Louth have rightfully won a Leinster Football Final, but because in 2010 a Try was deemed Goal, and neither good sportsmanship or anything resemblance of fair play, would deny a Meath man lifting the Cup..(Colm O Rourke was interesting in the Sunday Game that particular night, he wasn’t in any way outraged at such an obvious injustice). .. It’s a long time since 2005, but since then, only Dublin have rightfully lifted the Cup.. 17 out of 18 time’s!

  13. When you think that Slaughtneil give eventual AI winners Ballygunner such a tough AI semi final, this shows how well Mayo did to beat them. Granted a few Slaughtneil lads are playing football for Derry today, but this was a serious win for Mayo. Kildare have been favourites to win this competition from the outset. Lots of work being done in kildare to promote hurling. They took big scalp at u 20 in Leinster last year. Serious work being done at underage football in kildare also. Got their act together big time of late

  14. Congratulations to the hurlers on reaching the Christy Ring final and best of luck next weekend. They will be outsiders but have nothing to lose and I am sure will give it their best shot.

  15. Great win for the hurlers and congrats to Derek , his backroom team and of course the players. Events, exams and in Fergal Boland’s case football has starved Mayo of some special talent this year but the other lads have stepped up to the plate and deserve great credit.

    I have been involved in Mayo hurling for the last 60 years and trying to get the county support behind us has been a great disappointment. I for one would support any team from Mayo … especially in my Tooreen colours or in the red and green of Mayo ….. but unfortunately our wonderful football supporters still see hurling in Mayo as not truly representing their county. Even our hurling clubs don’t bother their arse to turn out to cheer the lads on. Years ago our club was refused permission to play in a certain grounds on the basis that it was a “GAA pitch” and not a hurling pitch. That attitude still prevails today and while we might have the best football supporters in Ireland …. we definitely don’t have the best GAA supporters. Next Saturday in Croke Park is an opportunity to correct this. Take care everyone.

  16. Great to hear from a stalwart of Tooreen hurling, the club which has been ploughing a lone furrow for many years in developing and playing hurling to a high standard and forms the nucleus of this successful Mayo team. Well done Tooreen

  17. @It means nothing to me. Naas has a population of 27,000. The same as Castlebar, Ballina and Westport put together. The Naas Seniors won All Ireland intermediate this year and the Kildare U20s beat Wexford last year. Kildare should be playing in the Leinster championship and not down in the Christy Ring Cup. They are operating at a totally different level to Mayo, being able to field 4 x U17 teams in the Celtic Challenge.

  18. Enjoyed watching Derry v Monaghan Rory Gallagher had his homework done. 3 goals and none conceded. Good to hear from @Austin Henry on the blog, would like to hear you on a podcast.

  19. The BBC commentary was brilliant.
    Mickey Hart, Oisin Mconville and Peter Canavan.
    Martin Mchugh on sideline.
    Nobody talking over each other and in depth Analysis.
    It should be a great Ulster final.

  20. Great to see the amazing turnaround from the disappointing League results. Glad to see Hurling on the rise in Mayo!

  21. Austin, ive never been to a hurling game in my life but after reading your post , i will go to the game next week.

  22. Yesterday’s game was a very high standard and it was indeed a pity that it was not better supported. The small attendance may be partially explained by this team having come from nowhere in a few short weeks. The lack of a bigger crowd didn’t bother my young son however however who was delighted with the easy post match access to players and got half the teams’ autographs on his hurley (A couple of the players reckoned it was their first time being requested autographs! :))

    Biggest crowd I’ve seen for a Mayo hurling game was the narrow and painful Christy Ring home semi final defeat in 2008 against the eventual winners Carlow. That team had a higher profile than the current team with Galway legend Pete Finnerty assisting Westport’s Martin Brennan and a bigger spread of players from all 6 clubs around the county including lads from Ballina and Belmullet (who sadly stopped fielding a team few years later). At that time the Christy Ring was the Tier 2 competition, with most of the present day Joe McDonagh Cup teams in it.
    There are two lads from that team still playing now – Stephen Coyne and Keith Higgins. Derek Walsh also played on that team, along with the likes of Adrian Freeman, Pierce Higgins and Stephen Broderick.

    Given the subsequent decline in club player numbers in the last decade, it’s a serious achievement for the county to be beating a Derry team whose club champions Slaughtneil can put it up to some of the best senior club teams in the country. Kildare will be a massive challenge, as alluded to by previous posters, given their recent underage success against traditional powerhouse counties in Leinster. Regardless of next Saturday’s outcome, as Austin Henry eloquently articulated, the lads deserve the support of the entire GAA community within the county.

  23. Best of luck to both Mayo and Kildare but hope for a mayo win first time in Christy ring cup final for Mayo. Hon the green an red.

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