D-Day for hopefuls in senior championship

GAA: Mayo SFC Round 3

Quarter finals spot up for grabs: Rob Hennelly and his Breaffy teammates are looking to book their place in the last eight this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Quarter finals spot up for grabs: Rob Hennelly and his Breaffy teammates are looking to book their place in the last eight this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

This weekend will see the last three quarter-finalists in the Mayo Senior Football Championship book their spot in the last eight of the competition, while another four sides will be confined to the relegation play-offs.

Mitchels and Ballagh' battle it out for top spot

Castlebar Mitchels v Ballaghaderreen; Saturday September 8 at 6pm in Charlestown

Something has been stirring on the eastern border this year as Ballaghaderreen look to reassert themselves as serious title contenders. Still it is hard to look past Castlebar Mitchels making it three from three as they aim to defend their title once again. But Ballagh' do have plenty to offer as they showed last Friday night in beating Ballintubber in the County Cup final. That competition might be a bit down the pecking order, but they put they used that game as an opportunity to work on their system and tune it up. With the likes of Barry Regan, Andy Moran, David Drake and Cian Hanley in their ranks they have the potential to make it difficult for Castlebar. However, the county town men are not the top side in Mayo for no reason. They have been efficiently working their way through the league and championship to date. Barry Moran, Neil Douglas, Paddy Durcan are all top class operators and their supporting cast are no mugs either-they are still the team to beat.

Battle to beat the drop in Foxford

Ballina Stephenites v Aghamore; Sunday September 9 at 4pm in Foxford

Avoiding the dog fight that is the relegation play-offs is the prize up for grabs on Sunday afternoon when Aghamore and Ballina meet on Moyside. Both have lost their two first games and ending their championship season this weekend is something both will be keen to achieve in this one. Aghamore will be looking to Alan Freeman, Ross Egan and Fergal Boland to give them the punch up front - but they will have to get the better of a Ballina side that are still in a rebuilding process. With the likes of Cian Tracey, Evan Regan, Ger Cafferkey and David Clarke in their line up it's not going to be that easy for the east Mayo men.

Knockmore look to keep up proud record

Knockmore v Garrymore; Sunday September 9 at 1pm in MacHale Park

The men from the parish of the backs have been a mainstay of the knock-out stages of the championship and they need a win over an already qualified Garrymore if they are to have a chance of making the last eight this time around. Knockmore were beaten by Charlestown in round one and were held by Moy Davitts to a draw a fortnight ago. Now they need to win this game and hope that Moy Davitts pick up a win against Charlestown too, but not by as much as they beat Garrymore by. The mobile phones will be hopping with direct lines from Foxford to Kiltimagh on Sunday as the action unfolds in both grounds.

In Charlestown's own hands on Sunday

Charlestown v Moy Davitts; Sunday September 9 at 1pm in Kiltimagh

It's all pretty simple for Charlestown when they take on Moy Davitts on Sunday-win and they are in the last eight; if Moy Davitts win their progress all depends on the action in Foxford between Knockmore and Garrymore, - a Garrymore win being the desired result. Charlestown pushed Garrymore in the last round - until a late rally saw the south Mayo side home and into the last eight with a game to spare. Moy Davitts achieved a great draw with the big brother next door in their last game - drawing 1-13 apiece with Knockmore and will be hoping that the chips fall their way on Sunday if they are to make the last eight.

Top spot battle in Ballinrobe

Claremorris v Westport; Sunday September 9 at 4pm in Ballinrobe

The meeting of Westport and Claremorris in Ballinrobe on Sunday is all about who is going to head into the quarter-finals as the top seed and with a winning momentum behind them. Both sides have seen off Hollymount-Carramore and Crossmolina in their opening two rounds and now it's all about asserting who is the big dog in the group. Westport are a side that a lot of eyes have been on, with James Horan in charge of an exciting group of young players complemented with the experience of Lee Keegan and Kevin Keane. Kieran Kilkelly was the main man for Westport in their hard fought win over Hollymount-Carrmore in the last round and Claremorris will be well warned of his potential threat. The south Mayo men will be happy to have backed up last year's semi-final bow, with an appearance in the last eight at least. This will be a major test of their ability to reach those heights again this year.

Win is a must for both in Islandeady

Hollymount-Carramore v Crossmolina; Saturday September 8 at 5pm in Islandeady

Neither side can afford to lose this game, as defeat brings the spectre of relegation even more clearly into view for the defeated side. Hollymount-Carramore will be thinking if they had got a bit of different luck they could have been heading into this game with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs. But narrow losses to both Westport and Claremorris now sees them needing a win to ensure they retain their top level status. For Crossmolina - this has been a year to forget, without a win in the league or championship they are taking on water badly. But they are a proud club, an All Ireland winning club and they will not be bending the knee in this one and will be expected to put it up to their opponents to the end.

Elite eight place up for grabs

Kiltane v Ballintubber; Saturday September 8 at 5.30pm in MacHale Park

The meeting of Ballintubber and Kiltane has all the makings of one of those classic championship encounters. The west Mayo men drew with Breaffy in the last round and could have won the day only for the length of Rob Hennelly's arms - in pulling a late Cillian O'Connor free from over the bar and away to safety. Whoever wins this one will be in the last eight for sure. Kiltane may feel a little aggrieved they have to travel a good 60km to Castlebar for this one, while Ballintubber have a much shorter 13km trek from their home ground for this game. But one thing for sure is that Kiltane will come with a heart and desire to win this game and a fair amount of skill too with the likes of Ultan Corrigan, Mikie Sweeney and Adam Carrabine -all classy operators at this level. As for Ballintubber, everyone knows about the punch they pack with the O'Connor,'s Alan Dillon and Jason Gibbons - just some of the top talent in their ranks.

Meeting of two sides on very different trajectories

Breaffy v Davitt; Saturday September 8 at 5.30pm in Claremorris

There is not many who will expect anything but a Breaffy win in this one. The west Mayo men were held by Ballintubber in round two, but with both of those sides having a genuine ambition of having a crack at Mitchels' crown, it was a decent result. As for their opponents, they were well beaten in Bangor Erris by Kiltane last time out and they are heading for the relegation play-offs - and maintaining their senior status is the most essential thing they will be looking to do over the rest of the season. Breaffy will want to get back to winning ways ahead of the last eight, but they will be keenly aware that they need to make sure they bring consistency with them after being surprised by Claremorris last year in the last eight.

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