Hurlers roar to Rackard Cup victory

Photo: @MayoGAA

In the depths of last winter behind closed doors at Croke Park, Mayo’s hurlers saw the Nicky Rackard Cup snatched from under their noses when two late goals for Donegal saw their the men from the hills pull off a smash-and-grab title success. There was never any danger of this happening in today’s decider, however, as the Green and Red sauntered to an emphatic 2-27 to 1-14 victory over Tyrone. It’s the second Rackard Cup title won by the county, who are now promoted to the Christy Ring Cup for 2022.

Mayo laid the platform for this win as early as the fourth minute at HQ today. Two Shane Boland frees were followed by a glorious effort from out the wing by captain Keith Higgins – who was magnificent from first to last in this game – and this was followed soon after by the day’s opening goal, scored by Seán Regan, who had the sliotar inadvertently passed to him by the Tyrone ‘keeper. Seán gratefully took possession and rattled the net.

That score put us five in front and the closest Tyrone got from then to the finish was when they narrowed the gap to three on the ten-minute mark. But the O’Neill County followed this with a barren 25-minute spell and in that period Mayo tacked on eleven unanswered points to shoot fourteen points clear, a gap the Northerners had reduced by one at the short whistle.

Photo: @MayoGAA

It wasn’t as if Tyrone didn’t have chances to narrow the gap further in that period. They did, notably when they were awarded a penalty after Michael Morley opted to take one for the team and haul down the Tyrone attacker before he got too close to goal.

The ref gave the penalty even though the offence had taken place outside the square. Casey hit it well but the sliotar was brilliantly parried by Bobby Douglas in the Mayo goal and was scrambled clear.

All the while, our scores were mounting up. Points from Adrian Phillips (whose effort initially looked to have been stopped over the bar without crossing the line but Hawkeye ruled otherwise), Keith (a ’65 followed by a free on halfway), Seán Regan, Adrian again, Conor Henry, Seán again, Adrian again, this one after a clever knock-back from Keith, and two wonderful efforts from Keith and Adrian, were among this procession of scores by us.

Tyrone really needed to up the gas after the break. In fairness to them, egged on by the supporters now taking their seats for the Ulster football final afterwards, they did just that, raising a bit of a gallop early in the second half.

The high-point of this attempted comeback was a well-taken goal by Grogan. He burst right through the middle and smacked it to the net. The gap was now down to ten points and the ever-increasing Tyrone following had something to shout about.

Photo: @MayoGAA

But our lads soon quietened the din. We responded to the goal right away with a point and after Tyrone had hacked wide a sideline cut we goaled from the restart. Bobby’s long puck-out fell kindly for Cathal Freeman who took possession at pace, drove on and lashed it to the net.

That was the game done as a contest. With our backline well on top throughout and our men first to the sliotar all over the field, we were able to control the tempo from there to the finish.

The thirteen-point lead we started the second half with was still there at the second water break. Victory and the title now assured, the lads began to relax and enjoy themselves in the final quarter, with eight more points knocked over into the Hill end before the finish. The match and the Rackard Cup were won in the end by a massive 16-point margin.

Photo: @MayoGAA

Keith Higgins has given so much to the county over a long and illustrious inter-county career but, of course, he’s given his best years to the footballers. Today must, though, have been a very proud moment for him, as he graced GAA HQ with a sublime hurling performance, after which, as team captain, he went up the steps of the Hogan Stand to accept the Nicky Rackard Cup on behalf of his county.

It was, too, a bit of a surreal moment for Mayo fans everywhere. We often have – as we know even if those from other counties don’t realise it – good days at Croke Park but we’ll be the first to admit that this rarely extends to days when there’s silverware on offer. Now, inside a period of just six days, Mayo teams have twice won a trophy at the big house. They do say these things come in threes, don’t they?

Today’s win marks a successful end to a very satisfactory year for Derek Walsh and the Mayo hurling team. After a solid National Hurling League campaign the target for the summer was to capture the Rackard Cup and earn promotion back to the Christy Ring Cup for next year. They did that in fine style today and huge congrats to them in reaching that goal.

Mayo: Bobby Douglas; Conor Daly, Michael Morley, Stephen Coyne; Gary Nolan (0-1), David Kenny, Conor Henry; John Cassidy, Seán Kenny (0-1, free); Cormac Phillips (0-1), Cathal Freeman (1-4), Seán Regan (1-3); Keith Higgins (0-7, one free one ’65), Adrian Phillips (0-3), Shane Boland (0-3, two frees). Subs: Brian Hunt for Cassidy (22-31), Pearse McCrann for Cassidy (47), Jason Coyne (0-1) for Cormac Phillips, Brian Hunt for Michael Morley, Brian Morley (0-2) for Adrian Phillips, Oisín Greally (0-1) for Boland.

32 thoughts on “Hurlers roar to Rackard Cup victory

  1. I think you’ve short-changed us by 10 points in your first paragraph WJ!

    Great win, fair play to Keith Higgins in particular after all his he has given to the footballers over the years, so well deserved that he should climb those steps.

  2. The ejits in RTE have the score Tyrone 4 – 28 to Mayo’s 2=17 even though their report correctly has Mayo winning. Congrats to them and best wishes next year when the competition will be stiffer but not insurmountable.

  3. Comhghairdeas do foireann Mhuigheo. What a great achievement by our hurling team and to the captaen Keith Higgins. A legend

  4. Oops – you’re right, Young Fella! More hurry, less speed – I’ve corrected it now.

    AndyD – the eejits clearly aren’t only in RTÉ this evening!

  5. Congratulations to Derek and his team. Another great achievement for the Mayo hurlers, and it means so much when they are all involved. I hope they will inspire our young people, with great days like this.

  6. Alot of praise needed for the whole pane and management l who put so much I’m over the years . WELL DONE ALL ?

  7. WJ, the ejits in RTE are being paid and we expect them to get it right. You, on the other hand, and I definitely do not include you in the ejits category, are not.
    I had been following the hurling on and off due to other commitments thinking they were smoothing their way to victory. Imagine the shock when I checked RTE’s website for a final score. A quick revert to Mayogaablog settled me.

  8. Sorry to barge in on the hurlers, a very well done by the way, but I see Paddy Power have the Kerry v Tyrone game down for the Sunday 3.30pm, do they know something we don’t ?

  9. Congratulations to the hurlers. A very solid year capped by silverware in Croke Park, A special well done to Keith Higgins …… lifted cup for Mayo U21 back in 2006 and doing so again 15 years later. Some man and servant to the county.

  10. Brilliant achievement by our hurlers, and a further boost to the game in our county. Yes, it’s brilliant to see Keith Higgins climb those steps finally as a winner, but I’m sure Keith himself would not want that fact, to overshadow the achievements and efforts of every single member of the panel and management too.

  11. Silverware, that’s what it’s all about. Well done Mayo, well done Keith. Thrilled for you.

  12. Poor Kildare, honest effort but was always going to get a bad beating, 10 points defeat is a good result for them.

    Even the mugs can see where the Dubs can be caught in the next game.
    This will require a blistering attack from the throw in, 2 or 3 goals against the Dubs in first 20 minutes, this is as plain as the nose on my face.

  13. Agreed Mayo88 – the only option is to take them on. Kildare have been so passive, so slow moving up the field and just afraid to have a right cut at it. Looks like they’ve chosen defeat by a reasonable margin ahead of going out and trying to win it.

    On this evidence, though, Dublin have regressed quite a bit. Can they flick the switch on against us? That’s the big question.

  14. Looks like Dublin are well beatable. Kildare should have been within 3pts at the end of the game – and that with a very average performance. As things stand we have the beating of them if we play to our potential. As do Kerry and Tyrone

  15. They could come alive when we face them , honestly its not that outlandish to think they are just strolling through these games . The Dubs dont look the same at all and i personally started to think perhaps they are truly regressing but then you start to think are they near top gear , they didnt seem to be that bothered about breaking in for a goal chance .

  16. The one plus is that the didn’t cut through that much for goal opportunities against let’s be honest, an average enough Kildare team.

  17. The absence of McCaffrey, Mannion and Diarmo is quite obvious. That said, I don’t think they’ve significantly regressed. They had another gear today.
    Comerford hasn’t been tested yet though… I’m clutching at straws.

  18. Boyles sports has us 3pt underdog
    Kerry 6pt favorite over Tyrone
    Alot can happen in 2 weeks.

  19. Kildare played very defensively which is why Dublin didn’t get in for goals. That’s also the reason Kildare couldn’t get the ball forward, ended up attempting shots from long range and missed a large amount.

    It will be a more open game when we play Dublin I’d guess.

  20. Dublin play like a team that really aren’t arsed with the Leinster championship. They just win it cos it’s their job. I think we’ll give them a good game but their still my favourites for the all Ireland. Hopefully we are as fit as Galway made us look.

  21. Dublin didn’t need to get out of second gear today. You’d really wonder if they’re bored with the Leinster championship at this stage and almost viewing these more as as warm up games. Hard to blame them if that is the case. They’ll certainly be wide awake when they see Mayo in two weeks. As Colm O’Rourke said… Dublin like Dracula… you’d only believe they’re dead when you see a stake through the heart. Here’s hoping for a red and green vampire slaying display performance.

    Brilliant to Keith lifting silverware in Croker. Huge congrats to him and all involved with our hurlers.

  22. Let’s face it apart from Daniel Flynn Kildare were poor today. Mayo will run at Dublin and cause them problems, not saying we’ll win but we’ll go close. Since Jim Gavin’s departure Dublin have slipped a bit.He was the genius behind them.Wides today and taking long range shots is not the Dublin we know. If we are to lose I hope it’s to Dublin rather than Kerry, at least the Dubs treat us with respect where as Kerry don’t see us as equals, but look on the bright side we might beat both of them,that’s assuming Kerry beat Tyrone. It might be a good thing we are playing in the first semi and not knowing what’s ahead after Dublin.

  23. I don’t think I have ever seen such an insipid, pedestrian Leinster final in over fifty years watching. While I considered it predictable from the outset because I have zero confidence in Kildare I was still disappointed in it. But we can be quite certain that Dublin will up their performance against us on the 14th. The question is: by what degree can they up their performance after 7 months of near sleeping? I think that being caught off guard training illegitimately during the lockdown knocked them out of their stride – they knew they could not afford to be caught a second time. Also the habit of strolling through Leinster for the past 10 years has to have its effect. Shifting through the gears from second gear to top over a summer is one thing. Shifting from second to top in a fortnight is another entirely. With a bit of luck, avoiding Covid issues and injuries, we should be able to see them out of the 2021 championship.

  24. I hope they appoint a ref who will make the right decisions. The ref today made two wrong calls which were very obvious against Kildare. The Dubs got scores from both of them. Wrong calls like this can swing the momentum in the opponent’s favour, and in some cases decide the outcome of a game. If a ref makes one or two wrong calls in a game it can be huge.

  25. Cooper will not be too pleased at the way he was brushed aside for kildare. Time to go at them backs for sure. But it will be a close affair.
    Much to do with how we manage our panel and Horan et al have been excellent so far. Its going down to the wire and this time i think we are the hungrier of the 2

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