Senior showdowns under the Saturday Night Lights

GAA: Mayo Senior Football Championship

Match of the day: The meeting of Castlebar Mitchels and Ballintubber on Saturday night should be an enthralling encounter. Photo: Sportsfile.

Match of the day: The meeting of Castlebar Mitchels and Ballintubber on Saturday night should be an enthralling encounter. Photo: Sportsfile.

The repeat of last year's final between Castlebar Mitchels and Ballintubber - which also marks a meeting of two teams that have split seven of the last eight senior titles between them - is the main attraction of tomorrow night's double header in MacHale Park.

The meeting of the two other sides, Ballaghderreen and Breaffy, will showcase a game in which both feel they are more than capable of having what it takes to book a place in the final, in order to go on and have a crack at whoever comes out on top in the other game.

No room for error for champions

Castlebar Mitchels v Ballintubber

Saturday, October 6 at 7.30pm

In MacHale Park

Castlebar Mitchels are chasing their fourth senior title in a row and are deservedly the bookie's favourite to do so. But if there is one side who will more than fancy themselves to throw a spanner in the works, it is their near neighbours, from Ballintubber.

Mitchels have gone about their business all year efficiently and with some style, they breezed through the group stages seeing off Aghamore, Ballina and Ballaghaderren and had their quarter-final contest with Claremorris put to bed before 20 minutes had elapsed. They are that good and they know exactly what they are doing on the field.

Ballintubber have really found their groove in the last while and they took apart the challenge of a Moy Davitts side, who looked to be keeping pace with them in the quarter-final, clinically taking two goal chances that presented themselves before half time and putting one foot firmly in the last four, before the resumption of the game after the break.

This game on Saturday will be littered with top quality talent, with Mitchels looking to pack a slightly bigger punch - with the likes of Paddy Durcan, Neil Douglas, Donal Vaughan, James Durcan, Danny Kirby, Barry Moran and Ger McDonagh - all top quality players at this level. Ballintubber though have plenty of big game players in their ranks too, such as Cillian O'Connor, Alan Dillon, Jason Gibbons, Diarmuid O'Connor and Alan Plunkett, who has been nothing short of electrifying in the last two championship outings for his side.

Going in as favourites won't bother the county town men, they'll embrace being there to be shot at - but they also know that Ballintubber won't go into this one fearing them at all and will be ready to put up a serious fight to the end.

Battle of the B's to get things going

Breaffy v Ballaghaderren

Saturday, October 6 at 6pm

In MacHale Park

Both of these sides finished as the runners-up in their groups to the two sides who are contesting the other semi-final - and both had to navigate very tricky quarter-finals to get to this stage.

Breaffy's meeting with Westport in that round was the game that generated the most interest and it came right down to the death for Peter Ford's side to edge themselves home by the slimmest of margins, thanks to a late Rob Hennelly free.

Only scoring two points in the final 30 minutes, as they did on that occasion, will not do this time around and Breaffy will be looking for big performances from the O'Shea brothers, Matthew Ruane, Michael Hall and others for the full 60 minutes if they are to make it out of this one.

Ballagh' caused the only minor upset in the last eight, seeing off Garrymore with a very impressive display. But when you have a team packed with players of the quality of Andy Moran, Barry Regan, David Drake, Cian Hanely, Shaoize Akram and Ryan Lynch, it really should not have been such a surprise.

These sides met in the final group game of last year's championship and Breaffy blew Ballaghaderren out of the water in that one, but the chances of that happening again this weekend look slim and both teams will feel they have what it takes to get back into the final.


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