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Former Dual Star Has A Very High Opinion Of Keith Higgins' Hurling Ability

Former Dual Star Has A Very High Opinion Of Keith Higgins' Hurling Ability

Four time All-Star Keith Higgins will play his first game of the year for the Mayo footballers on Sunday when Galway come to Castlebar on Sunday as Mayo embark on yet another summer odyssey in their quest for Sam Maguire.

Higgins only returned to Stephen Rochford's panel in April after taking the spring off to concentrate on the county's hurlers who, with his considerable help, managed to gain promotion to Division 2A of the Allianz League, beating Down in the 2B final.

Until recently, there was uncertainly as to whether Higgins, who has played in five All-Ireland finals for Mayo, would even join back up with the footballers this year, but he returned at the start of April and has been named at his traditional number 4 in the team to start against Galway in the Connacht Championship on Sunday.

Meath's Mickey Burke is someone who, like Higgins, shares a grá for hurling in what is predominantly a football county, and has himself spent time as a dual player in Meath. Speaking on this week's So-Called Weaker Podcast, Burke talked about the benefits that Higgins and the Mayo team will experience from his hurling sojourn.

I think he will (come back fresher). He's probably not doing the five, six nights a week hard graft with the Mayo footballers. He's keeping his eye in, he's keeping nice and fresh and he's not doing that massive load of training.

I played against Keith before and he's probably one of the best hurlers that I've ever (played against). I think he's one of the only few Mayo men to ever win a Railway Cup medal with Connacht. Absolutely brilliant hurler, fantastic.

I think it will do him the world of good. He played all the league games. He won a National League as well with them this year.  Yeah, I think there's probably a lot to be said for it.

Burke, who played both sports for Meath for a number of years before "getting a bit older" and concentrating on the football team, knows that the only reason Higgins taking the break from the team with which he made his name worked was that Higgins' manager handled the situation well.

Again, it's good communication between the two managements. Stephen Rochford had good trust there. He knew Keith wouldn't be messing. He maybe made him do the bit of gym work or something like that, but let him off and gave him a bit of freedom, and he'll probably come back in and be man of the match now at the weekend.

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Mayo get their Christy Ring Cup campaign under way in a game against Wicklow tomorrow, but will now have to do it without one of their star players who they were hoping would hang around for the Championship.

You can hear the entire interview with Mickey Burke here on this week's So-Called Weaker Podcast. He talks at length about the problems facing the growth of hurling in Meath, his own experiences representing Ireland at shinty, and looks ahead to the Leinster Championship opener against Longford at the end of May.

Also this week, we look ahead to the Leinster Football Championship. We hear from Laois manager John Sugrue, Louth captain Andy McDonnell, and Offaly coach Brendan Kealy. You can subscribe to the podcast on ITunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts by searching for "Balls.ie".

 

Michael McCarthy

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