And then there were eight, the field in the race for the Moclair Cup was cut in half last weekend with the final round of group games deciding whose season is still on track for a crack at the Mayo GAA senior championship, and for others it is about avoiding relegation to intermediate championship for next year.
The action moves to the last eight this weekend and gets under way on Saturday at 5pm in Ballina in a repeat of last year's county final when Castlebar Mitchels square off against Knockmore. Not many would have seen Castlebar going into this round as group runners up, but they are, after Ballina Stephenites' deserved win over them last weekend in the group stages. Castlebar's joint managers Declan Reilly and Declan Shaw will be looking for a serious improvement from their side tomorrow, because Knockmore will be itching to take them out and are well capable of it. They sit top of the league with one game left and after a shaky start of the championship against Charlestown they have been in blistering form and beaten Westport and Garrymore in the last two games. This promises to be a cracker to get the weekend going.
Also taking place on Saturday is a double header in MacHale Park, the action in the county grounds gets under way at 6pm with the meeting of Breaffy and Claremorris. Peter Ford's side came through the group stages with a 100 per cent record, most recently swatting aside Ballaghaderreen in impressive style last weekend. Having lost two county finals in recent years - they will hope that this year they can finally make the breakthrough. Claremorris came second behind Ballintubber in their group with a one win, one draw, and one loss record, and making the last eight for the first time in half a decade is major progress this year. This game might be a bridge too far for them this year, but Breaffy have been caught napping before.
The second game of the double header is the meeting of Ballintubber and Hollymount-Carramore, the Tubber went three for three in their group seeing off Claremorris, Kiltane, and Aghamore in impressive style, and they know how to win big games and will fancy their chances of claiming another senior title this year. For Hollymount-Carramore this is the first time the amalgamated club have reached this stage of the competition. They finished second behind Breaffy in the group and probably should have beaten them, showing they are no slouches, and with Ballintubber native Tony Duffy on the sideline they will be well prepared for this one.
The last quarter-final is the meeting of Ballina Stepthenites and Garrymore in Charlestown on Sunday at 2pm, the north Mayo men have finally got themselves going again and sent out a serious statement of intent with their win over Castlebar last weekend. Will they be able to follow it up against Garrymore on Sunday is another question. The south Mayo men have been regulars at this stage of the competition for a number of years now — without making the real impact they would have hoped for. This one should be a tight and entertaining classic.