Keith Higgins (left) will captain the Mayo hurling team this year, with Stephen Coyne (right) announced as vice-captain. Photos: Sportsfile

Higgins announced as captain of the Mayo hurling team

Mayo hurling manager Derek Walsh has confirmed that Keith Higgins will captain the team this year.

The Ballyhaunis man announced his retirement from inter-county football earlier this year following a hugely successful career with Mayo, but he committed to the hurlers and will now captain the team for their Allianz National Hurling League Division 2B and Nicky Rackard Cup campaigns.

Walsh also confirmed today that Stephen Coyne of Tooreen Hurling Club will be vice-captain for the season ahead, which will start on Sunday (May 9) with a league game at home to Derry.

Speaking to The Connaught Telegraph, Walsh admitted it was 'massive' to have Keith Higgins back in the squad for the full year.

He said: “He'll be a huge presence in the set-up on and off the field. He's a leader and a lot of Mayo fellas will look up to him. We've a young panel and it's great to have him on board and to have him at training every night.

“I'm looking forward to seeing him out on the pitch, although it's going to take him a while to get back into it because he hasn't played a lot of hurling for the past couple of years. But he is a huge addition to us; he'd be a huge addition to any team at our level.”

Offaly's Richie Fitzsimons will referee Higgins' first game as captain on Sunday as Mayo face Derry at Elverys MacHale Park from 3 p.m.