The Mayo U17 Hurlers long wait for championship action in 2023 finally came to an end in Hawkfield in Kildare on Saturday last, as the young Mayo side took on the locals in the National Celtic Challenge Cup. Mayo – who were defeated in the Division 5 final of this competition last year by Sligo – got off to a blistering start this season with this inspiring six point win on the road.
Played on the excellent surface of the Kildare GAA Centre of Excellence in Hawkfield, it was a frantic start for Mayo as they pointed through David Delaney with less than a minute on the clock. This opening score was closely followed by another white flag from Ballina hurler Niall Peoples who showed his intent in the match early doors. Playing with the aid of the elements in the opening half, Mayo got their major in the ninth minute when David Delaney pounced on a rebound from the Kildare custodian, to bat the sliotar to the Kildare net to give his side a commanding early lead – a lead his side would never relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Further Mayo opening half points from Dylan Groarke, Eoin Johnson, Fionn Delaney and Cathal Guilfoyle, meant that all six starting Mayo forwards had scored from play by half-time – a stat which will encourage manager Brian Finn. This left the half-time score at 1-13 to 0-9 in favour of the Westerners.
Facing into the stiff breeze in the second period, Mayo had it all to do to hold out the sleek Lilywhite attack. Stout Mayo defending from Matthew Delaney, Conor Ketterick, Eoin Enright and Cillian Mooney kept Mayo’s heads in front, while at the other end of the field the Mayo attack – lead by Peoples and freetaker Dylan Groarke – kept the Mayo scoreboard ticking over. Oisin Duffy from Caiseal Gaels also chipped in on the scoring from midfield, as he recorded two late points to round off a fine display. Mayo did conceded a late Kildare goal in the 57th minute but at that stage the result was beyond doubt.
In the ethos of the Celtic Challenge, Mayo made nine substitutions throughout the course of the game – with Kildare also making a similar amount of changes. But for Mayo – it was Ballina’s Niall Peoples who stole the show from full-forward – as he displayed some fine fielding and score taking ability throughout the course of the game – and was Mayo’s top performer on the day.
Mayo now travel to Donegal next Saturday 15th April where they will face the home side at 12noon in Round 2 of the competition.
Mayo: Charlie Kelly (Westport); Oisin Mulroy (Castlebar), Conor Ketterick (Westport), Eoin Enright (Castlebar); Cillian Mooney (Tooreen), Matthew Delaney (Tooreen), Tom Lambert (Westport); Lucas Kenny (Castlebar), Oisin Duffy (0-2 – Caiseal Gaels); Cathal Guilfoyle (0-2 – Westport), Eoghan Johnson (0-1 – Westport), Dylan Groarke (0-7 – Tooreen); David Delaney (1-1 – Tooreen), Niall Peoples (0-5 – Ballina), Fionn Delaney (0-1 – Tooreen). Subs Used: Conor Loftus (Castlebar), Dylan Burke (Claremorris), Milo Petkovic (Claremorris), Sean Duffy (Ballina), Eoin Healy (Ballina), Kyle O’Malley (Westport), Tomas O’Reilly (Westport), Paul Mongey (Castlebar), Michael Gough (Ballina).