All down for decision this weekend in senior championship

GAA: Mayo SFC Round Three

Back in club colours: Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore) and Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels) will be back in club championship action this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Back in club colours: Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore) and Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels) will be back in club championship action this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

It's back to the cut and thrust of action in the Mayo GAA senior club championship for the first time in over three months this weekend. While the junior championship has been moving along in the background and the semi-final stages down for decision this weekend, it has been long summer without championship action for the 16 senior clubs.

Going into this weekend's final round of action in the group stages, just three teams are safely through to the last eight — Ballintubber, Castlebar Mitchels and Ballina Stephenites — with five other spots still up for grabs. One side, Breaffy, look to be pretty much there too, unless an amazing series of results happens in their group.

The action in group one is probably the most intriguing as all four teams could end up level on three points each, and a handful of points in scoring difference being what decides who is playing in the quarter-finals and who is heading to the relegation play-offs. It is going to be stressful few hours for Charlestown, Garrymore, Knockmore, and Westport supporters on Saturday evening.

This weekend will also see the final two games in group two played at the same time in the same venue on different pitches with Breaffy, Hollymount-Carramore, Davitts, and Ballaghaderren all in action in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan on Saturday at 6.30pm.

Group One

Charlestown v Garrymore

Saturday, September 30

Bekan at 5pm

This is a pretty simple for Charlestown as any result, bar a defeat, means they will be in the last eight for sure. They could lose, and that combined with a Westport win over Knockmore, and scoring difference totting up in their favour, could see them through to the last eight, but Paul Jordan will be looking to avoid that scenario. Garrymore have just the one point from their opening two games, but the closeness of this group means they can still make the last eight. If they beat Charlestown here and Knockmore beat Westport they will make the last eight because of their head-to-head record emerging from this game. Charlestown will be looking to Niall Murphy and Jack Reilly to lead the attack, while the return of Tom Parsons from Mayo duty will be a big boost. Garrymore will be welcoming the returning Shane Nally and Caolan Crowe, also from Mayo duty, while Jimmy Killeen will also be looked to for returns on the scoreboard.

Verdict: Garrymore

Knockmore v Westport

Saturday, September 30

Castlebar at 5pm

After reaching the county final last year, Knockmore have not let up this year and have been flying in the league sitting top of the table in division 1A with one game to go in that competition. In the championship, they were involved in an early season thriller with Charlestown and came away with a point from that encounter. They followed that up with a devastating 11 point win over Garrymore in round two. On Saturday they will face a Westport team who have already had a successful year claiming the All Ireland intermediate title back in February. Like Charlestown, Knockmore have three points from their two games so far this season, and any positive result will see them into the last eight, and with Kevin McLoughlin, Keith Rutledge, and Shane McHale hoping to put in big showings they have the quality needed to get that result. Westport will look to Lee Keegan to bring his top form into this one and their young attackers like Colm Moran and Paul Lambert to ask questions of the Knockmore defence.

Verdict: Knockmore

Group Two

Breaffy v Ballaghaderreen

Saturday, September 30

Bekan at 6.30pm

With Andy Moran confirming earlier this week that he will not play football for the rest of the season after picking up an hamstring injury in the All Ireland final, Ballaghaderreen's chances in this one have taken a big blow. Breaffy come into this with two wins from two, and last weekend they welcomed back their full roster of Mayo players and others who were away for the summer in their win over Castlebar Mitchels in the league. Ballaghaderreen narrowly beat Davitts in round two and know if they can get a surprising win or draw in this one, and Davitts see off Hollymount-Carramore in the other game in this group, they will make the last eight. Without Moran's influence Ballagh will be looking to fellow Mayo man David Drake along with Sharoize Akram and Barry Regan to lead their charge. Breaffy will feel they are serious contendors for the Moclair Cup and they will be looking to put in a performance to back that up on Saturday.

Verdict: Breaffy

Davitts v Hollymount-Carramore

Saturday, September 30

Bekan at 6.30pm

This south Mayo derby is always a fierce contest and it will be no different on Saturday evening. Hollymount-Carramore are in a great position to make the last eight, they have two points from their huge 4-15 to 1-6 win over Ballaghaderreen in round one and a good scoring difference in their back pocket. They will also feel that they really should have seen off Breaffy in round two when the sides met in Carramore, only for the west Mayo men to edge it at the end by just two points — thanks to a couple of late goals. Darren Coen, Conor Keane, and Kevin Ferrick will be looked to to get the scores in this one, while Stephen Coen is also back in harness after Mayo commitments. Davitts are pointless at the bottom of the table with a points difference of -22 and will be looking for Breaffy to see off Ballagh and win this game and see the points difference scale tip in their favour if they are to avoid the relegation play-off.

Verdict: Hollymount-Carramore

Group Three

Ballintubber v Claremorris

Sunday, October 1

Ballinrobe at 3.30pm

The Tubber are just one of three sides already assured of their place in the last eight, but that does not mean they will be taking this one lightly. They saw off Claremorris in the County Cup final recently, but will welcome back the O'Connor brothers Diarmuid and Cillian for this one, along with Alan Dillon. They were very impressive in their opening two games, seeing off Kiltane and a fancied Aghamore side in style. Claremorris were held by Aghamore to a draw in round one in a sparkling encounter in the early days of summer and they followed that up with a four point win on the road to Kiltane. If they can get any sort of positive result in this one they will go through with Ballintubber to the last eight, but if they lose and Aghamore get a big win over Kiltane they will exit stage left from the championship. James Shaughnessy has been the south Mayo men's scorer in chief so far in the championship and they will need him to be on form again on Sunday. It will probably come down to scoring difference when all is said and done on Sunday evening.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Kiltane v Aghamore

Sunday, October 1

Ballina at 3.30pm

The east Mayo men know that they have to really go for it from the get-go on Sunday. They are sitting in third place in the table two points behind Claremorris and with a scoring difference of -9 compared to the south Mayo side's +4. With Claremorris facing table toppers Ballintubber in the other game they will have to hope that Ballintubber are in unforgiving mood in their game and they can rack up a big score against the north Mayo men if they are to progress. But Kiltane have plenty to play for — a win would see them leapfrog over Aghamore and escape the relegation play-offs. The north Mayo men will give everything they have on Sunday and will not make it easy for Aghamore, with John Reilly and Mikie Sweeney being looked to for big showings. For Aghamore, Brendan Harrsion, Alan Freeman, and Fergal Boland will be expected to drive their challenge if they are to make the last eight. A fascinating encounter lies in store. 

Verdict: Aghamore

Group Four

Ballina Stephenites v Castlebar Mitchels

Saturday, September 30

Knockmore at 4pm

Both of these sides are already through to the last eight with two wins each already under their belts, so the pressure is off heading into this one, but the prize of top spot is still up for grabs. This is a classic meeting of the two most historically successful clubs in the county, but Castlebar have been the showstoppers in recent years and are going for three senior titles in a row. Declan Reilly's side have made short work of both Ballinrobe and Crossmolina so far in the championship and only lost for the second time this year in the league and championship when an under-strength side were beaten by Breaffy in the league last weekend. Ballina will be delighted to have secured their place in the last eight already as they look to get back to their glory days. But come Saturday afternoon, it is hard to look past the Mitchels machine who have been so impressive in recent years and show no signs of letting up this year.

Verdict: Castlebar Mitchels

Ballinrobe v Crossmolina Deel Rovers

Saturday, September 30

Castlebar at 6.30pm

This is a pretty simple one for both sides — whoever wins will be safe in the knowledge they will be playing senior football next year, while the other will be sent to the bear pit of the relegation play-offs. A draw would suffice for Ballinrobe, as they have a better scoring difference than Crossmolina from their opening two games. Neither side were able to lay a hand on Castlebar Mitchels in their meetings with the defending county champions in the earlier rounds, while Ballinrobe went down by just two points to Ballina when they met in round one, whereas Deel Rovers lost out to their north Mayo neighbours by 10 points. Ballinrobe will be looking to Donal Vaughan and Kevin Quinn to drive them on, while Crossmolina will hope that Mayo squad men Conor Loftus and Stephen Duffy will complement the likes of Cathal Carolan and Fionan Duffy in their drive to beat the battle to avoid the relegation play-offs.

Verdict: Crossmolina Deel Rovers

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