Kildare a cut above in Christy Ring Cup decider

Today’s Christy Ring Cup final against Kildare was always going to be a difficult assignment for Mayo’s hurlers. The Lilywhites – who had won this title twice in the previous four years and had competed at the Joe McDonagh Cup level last year – were streets ahead of everyone, ourselves included, in the group matches and they came into today’s title decider as unbackable favourites. Realistically, the result was only ever going to go one way.

That’s the thing about hurling – if you put two teams that are mismatched in ability up against each other, the better team will win, every single time. There was clearly a significant gulf between Kildare and Mayo in today’s Ring Cup decider and it was apparent as early as ten minutes in that the Leinster team were going to prevail, and handily too.

By then, they’d bagged their opening goal. Corner forward Brian Byrne found the net for them on eight minutes and two quick points afterwards opened the lead out to seven points.

Our lads battled manfully to stay with them from then on. Kildare’s ball handling and their crisp, confident stick work kept them constantly on the offensive, however, and the scores continued to rack up. Plenty of high-quality ones too, including from classy centre-forward James Burke, who landed a free from just outside his own ’45.

The Naas clubman was on fire for the Lilies today, ending the game with ten points to his credit, all but two of which were from placed balls. Wing forward Gerry Keegan went one better, though, claiming eleven points, all from play, in a shoot-the-lights-out personal display.

For us, Shane Boland was our main scoring outlet. He bagged six of our first half points, all but one from frees, with Eoin Delaney – who turned his marker nicely before shifting to strike off the left – and Joe Mooney, from a super sideline cut, getting the other two before the break. Shane would, once again, be our top scorer on the day, weighing in with ten points, seven from frees.

Kildare had got a second goal, batted to the net by the other corner forward Cathal Dowling, before the break and they went in a yawning 15 points in front. By now, it was clear that the only objective facing our lads for the second half was to keep the scoreline to respectable proportions.

And, to their credit, that’s exactly what they did. The tempo dropped, for sure, in the second half, as Kildare, now sure of victory, eased off on the throttle but we bagged a number of cracking points, adding a further eleven points to our tally before the finish, with Kildare claiming the silverware on a scoreline of 2-29 to 0-19.

Losing a final is never easy – no Mayo supporter needs reminding of that fact – but today’s defeat to such superior opposition negates in no way what has been a great Christy Ring Cup campaign for this Mayo team.

After suffering relegation from Division 2B in the spring, largely due to issues of player unavailability at the time, it was expected that they’d struggle in what was always going to be a very competitive environment in the Ring Cup.

The 30-point drubbing they received from Kildare in the opening round seemed to bear this out. A second relegation of the year – this time sending them back down to the Rackard Cup level – looked to be on the cards then.

But that was when their year finally took off. Wins on the road, against Wicklow in Aughrim and London in Ruislip, breathed life into their campaign, while home wins after that over Sligo and Derry saw them first retain their Ring Cup status for next year and then claim a spot in the competition’s final for the very first time.

So, when the pain from today’s defeat eases, which it should do quickly enough, Derek Walsh and his charges will be able to reflect on what has been a very positive summer campaign for them this year. It leaves them with loads to build on in 2023, first by seeking promotion in the League and then having a right cut at the Ring Cup once more next summer.

Hard luck today, lads, but well done for getting as far as you did and congrats on what has been a very positive year for the county’s hurlers.

Mayo: Bobby Douglas; Gary Nolan, Stephen Coyne, Paul Kirwan; Mark Phillips, Ger McManus, David Kenny; Keith Higgins (0-1), Daniel Huane; Seán Kenny (0-1), Joe Mooney (0-1, sideline), Adrian Phillips; Eoin Delaney (0-1), Joe McManus (0-2), Shane Boland (0-10, seven frees). Subs: Kenny Feeney (0-3, one free) for Kirwan, Eoghan Roe for Mark Phillips, Conal Hession for Huane, Patrick Lyons for Delaney, Brian Hunt for Seán Kenny.

5 thoughts on “Kildare a cut above in Christy Ring Cup decider

  1. Progress made, getting to Christy Ring, is a big step up. Learn, improve, train harder, repeat. Also, county board need to invest in hurling, while Mayo a football county, which I enjoy, no harm investing in small ball, these guys are role models for younger generation

  2. Comhghairdeas to foireann Mhuigeo. Surely Kildare should be playing in the Joe McDonagh Cup. I know they will be next year but the GAA should ensure a level playing field to promote hurling in weaker counties!
    I agree with the previous post County Board must invest more in the sliotar!
    Mhuigeo Abu!

  3. They didn’t throw in the towel which was good to see. Mayo hurlers are punching way above their weight considering there are less senior clubs in Mayo than most counties. And then when some key players can’t commit it’s always going to hard.
    Yes the county board should do more but there is no appetite there to promote hurling properly in the county. It might impact our chances of winning Sam!

  4. Kildare had eight starting players from Naas. A town of 20k where huge investment and working is being put into hurling in recent years. Fair play to them but Mayo simply can’t compete with teams like that until proper funding and resources are put into Mayo hurling but in fairness there are encouraging signs.

    St Colmans college in Claremorris famed for football now have a hurling team as does Claremorris GAA. Moytura based in Cong is also a new recently setup hurling club.

    Hurling is a skill though and even a lifestyle mindset. In the successful counties you’ll see young kids with hurls up and down the street playing…anyone who’s been to kilkenny would have seen this. And the reality is that Kildare team would be walloped but any of the top tier teams so it shows the gap that needs to be bridged.

  5. There is certainly an issue with resourcing development and promotion of the game in the county. There is only one Games Promotion Officer for hurling in the county (Adrian Hession). Adrian does great work but he has enough to be doing simply covering the existing nine underage clubs before trying to develop the game in other parts of the county. The indifference of some at county board also seen in some dual clubs where hurling may be viewed as a fringe pursuit by the majority. A key factor in Ballyhaunis and Tooreen being dominant in the club scene is that dual players are accommodated up to adult level. The majority of the Ballyhaunis teams in both codes are comprised of dual players while there are a fair scatter of Tooreen hurlers in the Aghamore senior football team. By contrast, Castlebar and Westport, the two other senior hurling clubs, don’t have a single hurler in either of their senior football squads. This is because the (erroneous) thinking is that players have to concentrate on the big ball when they turn 15 or 16. However I would argue that Keith Higgins’ attibutes as a footballer (particularly his speed and fast reflexes) were enhanced by his hurling experience. The same goes for the likes of Shane Boland.

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