Hurlers ring up promotion to second tier

Play-off final score

Photo: @MayoGAA

The full-time whistle sounded a bit earlier on at Ballinamore in the Christy Ring promotion/relegation play-off and it’s our lads who came out on top, winning on a scoreline of 1-21 to 1-14. So after a year down in the third tier the hurlers will be back competing for the Christy Ring Cup again in 2017.

While today’s game didn’t have the same razzmatazz as last weekend’s Nicky Rackard Cup final at Croke Park, it was arguably a far more important match to win. Why there are promotion/relegation play-offs between the different hurling tiers is highly questionable but there are and so it was a contest in which our lads needed to come out on top.

There was no Keith Higgins in the team today either. What the Mayo lads did have, though, was plenty of momentum going into today’s play-off, having had a run of 100% success in the recently-concluded Rackard Cup, culminating in the capture last Saturday at HQ of the county’s first ever national senior hurling title.

They started well today at the Leitrim venue, building up a seven-point lead partly thanks to an early goal by Darren McTigue, but Derry then fought back to cut the gap to three at the break. The Oak Leafers made a determined push to hold onto their second tier status on the resumption and they led briefly, by 1-11 to 1-10, when Shane Farren netted a penalty goal for them fifteen minutes after the restart.

Last Saturday at Croke Park when Armagh really put it up to them in the second half of the Rackard Cup, it was the Mayo lads who found an extra gear.  Once again with their backs to the wall today, JP Coen’s men responded in impressive fashion. With Kenny Feeney once more leading the charge, the lads in Green and Red eased away from their Northern opponents to close out a seven-point win.

Congrats to the county’s hurlers on what has been a very productive year for them. Relegation last year would have been a bitter pill for them to swallow – made worse by the fact that it was that defeat to the Rossies that sent them down to the third tier – but they’ve responded in fine style in 2016.

Winning the Rackard Cup and securing promotion back up to the second tier would obviously have been their twin targets starting out this year. Well done to them on nailing both in the impressive manner that they did.

22 thoughts on “Hurlers ring up promotion to second tier

  1. Great win for the hurlers! Given the small playing numbers in the county we should be rightly proud of their achievements.
    Here’s to playing in the Christy Ring competition next season.

  2. They play Ross next week before the Galway game in the so-called Connacht Internediate final. We could do a lot worse than to get into the ground early to show our lads some appreciation for their efforts and what has been a brilliant season. Congrats to all, good to be back. On to Liam McCarthy next year!!!

  3. An excellent hardfought win today with no arguments from the Derrymen about the result. I’m not an expert on hurling but I had to admire the skills of Kenny Feeney, esp. in setting up the Mayo goal with a run along the endline and also the skills of David Kenny at centre back. The McManus brothers [I presume they are brothers] from St Jude’s also add a lot to the team.
    I have say too that it was a disgracefully small crowd in attendance from both Derry and Mayo, well less than 100 if you exclude small kids.
    On the other hand the facilities of the local Sean O’Heslin’s club are excellent and there were stewards on hand to deal with much bigger crowd.

  4. Andy, we are a football county in the same way Kilkenny are a hurling county, throw in the euro soccer action and rugby and you see why the attendance was low.
    Anyway, my hat is tipped to the Mayo hurling fellas, well done.

  5. Congratulations to the hurlers on a well deserved promotion. I had planned on being there myself today, but I’d just too much on today. Its hard to get away every weekend.

  6. Congrats and well done to the Mayo hurlers. We should acknowledge their efforts by attending at Machale Park next Saturday evening early to catch both matches. Feck the euros

  7. Dave, If Mayo were a football county in the same way Kilkenny are a hurling county there is now way we would be fighting for Christy Ring promotion today. When did you see Kilkenny in the hunt for anything except a hammering in football? Certainly football dominates in Mayo but in Ballyhaunis/Tooreen/Aghamore it is pretty 50/50. In other areas it hurling is significant too, just maybe not with everybody. And I don’t see what was happening in the Euro soccer today to get a Mayoman excited while the rugby did not start until the hurllng was over, Of course people who follow football week in, week out have to take the odd weekend off but on a lovely day like today I would have expected a lot more turning out. It makes the efforts of Mayo hurlers all the more commendable.

  8. Well done to the hurlers.

    Was in for the equivalent last year in Salthill.

    It was an interesting game. Ros were superior but Mayo were missing a few. I felt the quality of the hurling was good; not in the Kilkenny or Tipp class of course, but you could do far worse that follow the lower tiers of hurling and not feel inferior about the top guns. It’s all about finding a level and enjoying it at that level – something that applies to all sports.

  9. Andy my friend, if I was in Ireland I would probably have went to ballinamore too. I agree that hurling is strong in some parts of Mayo, I would like to see it grow by the way, but it’s not a patch on football in Mayo minds. Today was a busy sports day so people do as they wish, rugby or soccer or whatever makes them happy

  10. Well don’t to the Mayo hurlers they are a credit must admit I don’t go to many of their games but will be in Mac hale park early Saturday afternoon to support them

  11. I’d say that the exposure the hurlers have had in the last while could possibly turn a few heads in the county in terms of support!

  12. Dave, people will always do what makes them happy. Understandably so. And sometimes other commitments will prevent them from choosing their first choice. But that does not exempt their decision from questioning.As Neil Toibin once said when commenting on the World Cup [soccer] people get excited over countries they never heard of before. If asked they would be at a loss to explain why. Which is why I dispute that the Euros is a reason for the low attendance in Ballinamore today. And while rugby has a following in Mayo is it stronger than the hurling following, numerically? Today 26 young Mayomen lined up to represent their county. I thought it reasonable that more of their countymen and women would have come to support them. If you said today was a good hay day I would have more sympathy, even though I know that damn all people make hay nowadays, even on good hay days.

  13. Andy, we can only assume that the mayo people don’t bother with hurling. Sorry if that’s a bit tough to hear but it’s the truth. In time to come if the kids of mayo are nurtured for hurling in the few clubs and perhaps a few more clubs buy a few hurls and sliotars we will see the fans getting more into it. If I’m not mistaken crossmolina have hurlers on the club emblem and were founded as a hurling club. I may be wrong but I think I heard it said before.

  14. Congrats to our hurlers, fair play to them for getting two great wins the past two weekends. The great thing to see, like our U21 footballers, they set their targets at the beginning of the year and they both went out and achieved these targets and they weren’t afraid to say that All-Ireland titles were part of those targets as well.

    Both teams showed plenty of self-belief and its no coincidence that both teams finished all of their games very strongly. Thats what you want to see. Any players that were brought on too from the bench always made a big difference which is a great sign of a team and shows real team spirit. Lets hope that trend continues for the year ahead with all of the teams representing Mayo GAA.

  15. People might be surprised at the number of juvenile hurling clubs that have started up over the past 25 years or so across the county. Unfortunately too many of them have failed to sustain their development beyond a few years and faded away again. Crossmolina fielded U14 hurling teams around the early to mid 90s, even winning a Féile Div 5 when captained by Gabriel Walsh, one of their senior football team veterans (and briefly of Lahardane also!). Addergoole ie. Lahardane also briefly fielded younger underage teams in the mid 2000s I think.
    Moytura (a South Mayo amalgamation of Ballinrobe, Kilmaine, The Neale etc) seemed to be going well as recently as three years ago, fielding teams up to U16 and indeed minor for a year or two (?) that were very competitive with the traditional club teams but seem to have died away again.
    Currently, Ballyvary and Cashel Gaels (Based in Carracastle/Kilmovee) have stand alone underage hurling clubs and Claremorris also have some underage hurling development going on. Of these three, based on current development, Cashel Gaels look the most likely to make the transition to fielding at adult level but hopefully the other two can make the transition also.
    The big loss to hurling in the county is the failure of Belmullet and Ballina to field adult teams for the past 4 or 5 years. Both of these clubs were capable of supplying five or six players each to county senior squads circa 2007 and both won county senior titles during the 2000s – Ballina as recently as 2007. Sean Regan is the sole Ballina player on the current Mayo team and Belmullet’s last representatives were Paddy Barrett and Derek McDonnell who retired last year.
    Arguably club hurling was at it’s strongest in the county during the mid 2000s when each of the six clubs at the time were capable of beating each other on a given day – this period coincided with Mayo first making the step up from being a longstanding Tier 3 team to a competitive Tier 2 (Christy Ring) team which culminated in them reaching two Christy Ring semi-finals in 2008 and 2009 (The Christy Ring competition was arguably stronger during this period as it contained more teams, including Westmeath, Carlow and Kerry – who have all gone on to consolidate their Liam McCarthy status ).
    The current standard of club hurling isn’t bad considering there only four teams. Ballyhaunis and Tooreen are still out in front of the other two when full strength and usually put it up to the Galway intermediate champions in the Connacht club IHC but neither has yet made the breakthrough of winning the Connacht IHC yet. Castlebar have made big improvements and have a very young squad so they should be challenging on an ongoing basis. Westport have always been competitive and are very strong from U16 downwards so they can hopefully sustain their adult teams also
    To conclude on a tantalising note for Mayo hurling development: If every underage club that commenced in the past couple of decades was able to sustain their development, and the existing clubs had consolidated, we could have had a scenario with approximately a dozen adult club teams in a couple of years time!

  16. Congratulations to the Mayo hurling team. some fine young lads coming through here with a good attitude.I was unable to catch that game as I was otherwise occupied. Be early for the match next weekend, and get a good seat in to the bargain.

  17. Yerra shure after that second half against Sligo Roscommon are going to win Sam for sure

  18. CPR, going on past experience where I have been involved around the country counties like Mayo depend to a large degree on outsiders from hurling counties to generate interest and provide coaching to develope hurling. If they are left to their own devices and not supported their enthusiasm eventually wanes or perhaps they move on and the young clubs die. I understand that Belmullet was largely built on the efforts of a Galway man and that the same applies in Cashel Gaels today. Again it is up to the county board and Connacht council to provide the necessary support to ensure that these budding clubs do not die out. Much lip service is paid to the cause of hurling but it takes much more than lip service to put a team o the field.

  19. A big congratulations to the hurlers on another sterling effort and on achieving the target they set for themselves at the end of last year, efficiently and impressively. They deserve massive credit as do the small number of supporters who have followed them all the way.

    I had planned to be at the game – and even made part of the journey! – but something came up at the very last minute that meant I couldn’t make it to Ballinamore in time. That’s us sunshine supporters for you I suppose.

    But arguably more could be done by the powers that be in Mayo to promote the game as well – wearing the green and red jersey is an honour, regardless of what code it’s in and a little more recognition from the top might just spur a bit more interest on the ground. It’s also a shame that the GAA crams this competition into the start of reason, rushing it through before the “real” summer action starts. It deserves a little more thought than that.

    Looking forward to watching these guys in action again on Saturday but I’m pretty sure it’ll be a small crowd then too.

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