It’s been a punishing League campaign up in Division 2A for the county’s hurlers but it ended today on a high note. Over at McGovern Park in Ruislip this afternoon the hurlers recorded a 0-16 to 1-10 win over London, a result that ensures the retention of the county’s place in Division 2A once again next year, while consigning the Exiles to the drop.
The Mayo lads had the upper hand for most of the seventy minutes in this winner-take-all contest at Ruislip. The home side got a shot in the arm with a 16th minute goal by full forward Tadhg Healy but the visitors then reeled off four unanswered points to open a two-point gap.
It was level at the break and so, with London enjoying wind advantage in the second half, the game was there for either side to win.
Mayo got the first few scores on the resumption and for most of the second half they kept their noses in front. London did, though, pull level with less than ten minutes to go but by then they were down to fourteen players, as Kevin Reid had been dismissed on a second yellow.
A second London sending-off in the closing minutes – Garrett Lenihan walking on a second yellow – provided the visitors with the chance to pull clear. This they did, as they tacked on a few late points to win by three at the finish.
The win means that the hurlers finish fifth in Division 2A, level on three points with Meath – with whom they drew in the opening round – but behind them on points difference. It was a creditable end-point in the division for them, in light of the very significant step up in the quality of opposition they were up against in this NHL campaign.
A sign of the changing times in hurling comes with the realisation that next year one of the counties that Mayo will be hurling against in Division 2A will be Offaly. The Faithful County – four times All-Ireland champions, a sequence begun by their breakthrough Liam McCarthy Cup win in 1981 – were demoted from Division 1B today, following their defeat by Carlow in the relegation play-off at O’Connor Park.