Monday, May 10, 2021

During last Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 2B game between Mayo and Derry in MacHale Park, Castlebar, a rare event occurred that is seldom seen anywhere in the hurling world. A defensive puck-out strategy between Mayo goalkeeper Gerald Kelly and Mayo defender Stephen Coyne resulted in one of the longest distance points ever scored in MacHale Park, estimated at an incredible 135-metres. The move is seen often by goalkeepers up and down the country but seldom has the outcome that Gerald Kelly enjoyed, in his side’s 0-21 to 1-16 win over a Slaughtneil dominated Derry side.

In the excitement of the game, very few people in the ground saw the event due to the quick thinking of the Mayo goalkeeper, as he played a one-two with Tooreen corner-back Stephen Coyne. Coyne had the self-respect to duck out of the way of Kelly’s follow-up, as he launched another wind-assisted monster into the Mayo attack. But the crisp connection by the Mayo goalkeeper saw his strike from just outside his own 13-metre line fly well over the crossbar of Derry custodian Oisin O’Doherty at the other end of the field. It really was a monster shot and cleared the Derry crossbar with plenty to spare, noteworthy by the height at which the sliotar hit the ball stop netting at the back of the Derry goal.

It really had to be seen to be believed – and luckily, Mayo cameraman Aidan Morley caught the piece of individual brilliance from the St Thomas’ (Galway) clubman. The eighteen-second clip can be viewed here:

Gerald Kelly is in his second year playing with the Mayo senior hurlers after joining the panel in 2020. He is a regular on the scoresheet for Mayo but usually from dead-ball plays from his own half-back line. Indeed Kelly also played in the forward line for Mayo in last year’s Division 2A campaign and scored two points from play against Meath in Navan before lockdown.

Kelly qualifies to play for Mayo under the parentage rule – his mother hailing from Bonniconlon just outside Ballina. He played in goal last year as Mayo succumbed to Donegal in the final of the Nickey Rackard Cup in Croke Park in November. Also last year, Kelly manned the goals as his club St Thomas’ won the Galway Senior Hurling Championship title for a fifth time, with a narrow victory over Turloughmore.

Kelly and his Mayo teammates will be looking to maintain their unbeaten record as they head for Hyde Park in Roscommon on Saturday next, May 15 to take on the locals. One thing is for sure, the Roscommon forwards won’t be allowing any short puck-outs while Kelly is around.

Story courtesy of Adrian Hession, Mayo GAA’s hurling GPO.

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