Novel pairing as Moycullen face Mayo champions Westport

County champions Moycullen play first-time Mayo winners Westport in the AIB Connacht Club Senior Championship Football quarter-final on Sunday (1.20pm ).

This is Moycullen's second county title, but their first foray into the Connacht club championship, having won their previous title during a Covid-hit 2020. As a result, this is a novel pairing of two first timers. The bookies have Moycullen as firm favourites at 8/15, but his is perhaps an unfair reflection. On paper both sides seem evenly matched.

Westport’s path to their first ever senior county title began in 2016 when they won the Mayo intermediate title and ultimately the All-Ireland intermediate title in February 2017. Since then they have made massive strides at underage level and now many of those players are at the forefront of their senior team.

Their 2022 journey towards winning their first county title was relatively straight forward as they coasted through a group containing The Neale, Ballintubber and Mayo Gaels. The quarter-final paired them with Garrymore whom they overcame by two points in a tense affair, while in the semi-final they were hotly fancied to beat a Castlebar Mitchels team lacking the experience of their previous successful teams. However, in the end it required a last-gasp Shane Scott goal to edge the contest in Westport's favour by a point.

Ballina Stephenites, having advanced the final, were favourites to win their 37th Mayo title, but Westport upset the odds to win by three points. And with plenty of Mayo senior pedigree in their ranks, with Rory Brickenden, Lee Keegan, Fionn McDonagh, Kevin Keane and Mark Moran, they certainly cannot be taken for granted. Wing-back Eoin McLaughlin, who was unavailable for the final due to injury, remains a major doubt for the Moycullen game ,which would be a big boost for Don Connellan’s team.

Moycullen have been back to business after a few days of celebration post the Salthill-Knocknacarra game. Having not enjoyed a crack at the Connacht championship in 2020, they can be expected to have the bit between their teeth for this encounter.

On paper it appears Moycullen have a little bit more firepower than their Mayo counterparts, but they are evenly matched elsewhere.

In terms of match-ups, Neil Mulcahy is likely to pick up Kevin Keane, who has been redeployed at full forward for the past few seasons, while Michael Moughan will probably be tasked with keeping Mark Moran quiet.

The mouth-watering pairings are happening further out the pitch with Sean Kelly pairing up against Fionn McDonagh and Peter Cooke going head-to-head with Lee Keegan. If Kelly and Cooke can win their individual battles, it will go a long way to winning this game for Moycullen.

The man in the middle taking charge will be Roscommon native and St Faithleach’s clubman Paddy Neilan.


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