Who will challenge Ballintubber for their crown?

GAA: Mayo SFC Round One

Catch the champions: Who will rise up to challenge Diarmuid O'Connor and Ballintubber in this years Mayo Senior Football Championship. Photo: Sportsfile.

Catch the champions: Who will rise up to challenge Diarmuid O'Connor and Ballintubber in this years Mayo Senior Football Championship. Photo: Sportsfile.

All 16 runners and riders in this year's Mayo Senior Football Championship have been waiting for this weekend to arrive for a while now. Saturday will see a full slate of action taking place all over the county, with Ballintubber the defending champions the side to beat again this year.

Group One

Davitts v Breaffy

Saturday at 6pm

This one on paper looks like it will only end one way - with the points going home with the visitors. The meeting of these two sides in the championship has become a bit of a tradition in recent years and the draw pitted them together again.

Both sides have won one and drawn one of their two opening league games, albeit with Breaffy's draw against Ballintubber and win over Castlebar Mitchels in division one an impressive start - while Davitts, in division three, beat Kilmeena last weekend and drew with Bonniconlon in round one.

The visitors come packing a punch, with Aidan O'Shea and Matthew Ruane in flying form after Mayo's league win, while Colm Boyle will also be buzzing off that result and will be the beating heart of the south Mayo men's charge.

Verdict: Breaffy

Kiltaine v Moy Davitts

Saturday at 2pm

Both of these sides will fancy their chances of making their way out of the group alongside Breaffy (last year's beaten county finalists being expected to top the group ), so this early throw in on Saturday should be one of the keenest games of the weekend.

Having not only ensured their stay in top flight lasted at least more than a year last season, and making the last eight last term, the visitors will be keen to drive on again this year. They beat last year's intermediate champions Belmullet last weekend in the league, having lost to Charlestown in the previous round.

Kiltane finished in third place in their championship group last year and thus out of the relegation battle, so far this year in the league they have a 100 per cent record, having beaten Kilmaine and Crossmolina Deel Rovers over the past two weekends. There should be little in this and home advantage could be key.

Verdict: Kiltane

Group Two

Aghamore v Westport

Saturday at 5pm

Having gone close to making the semi-final last year, this will be a big year for Westport as they look to establish themselves as one of the current big beasts of the game in the county.

The loss of James Horan, who has returned to the Mayo job, is something they would have not hoped to have to deal with, but Tony Duffy is an experienced hand to take over the project.

The home side ended up bottom of their group last term and had to see off Davitts in the relegation semi-final to ensure they stayed in the senior grade for this year. They will be hoping that the likes of Brendan Harrision and Fergal Boland can carry their Mayo form with them, while Westport come stacked with quality young talent to supplement the all out action displays of Lee Keegan.

Aghamore have won two from two in the league so far, seeing off Knockmore and Ballina, while Westport were beaten by Castlebar Mitchels in round one and then were held to a draw by Claremorris last weekend.

Verdict: Westport

Castlebar Mitchels v Ballina Stephenites

Saturday at 5pm

The clash of the two most successful clubs in the history of the Mayo championship could be an interesting battle on Saturday evening - but the smart money will of course be going on the homeside.

Mitchels beat Westport in the opening round of the league and then were well beaten by Breaffy in round two - but that result comes with a caveat, as Mitchels didn't start the likes of Paddy Durcan, James Durcan, Donal Vaughan or Eoghan O'Reilly in that game and ended up finishing the game with 14 men.

Ballina are striving to get back to the big time, but are pointless after two league games, losing to Ballintubber last weekend and Aghamore the week before. They'll have a cut this weekend and will be hoping that Evan Regan and Ciaran Tracey can hit he ground running for them up front to give them a fighting chance.

Verdict: Castlebar Mitchels

Group Three

Hollymount-Carramore v Ballintubber

Saturday at 4pm

The defending champions will be keen to get their title defence off to a winning start - but face a tricky assignment away to Hollymount-Carramore on Saturday afternoon.

The Abbeysiders had a comfortable win over Ballina on the road last weekend in the league, having drawn with Breaffy in round one a fortnight ago. They have all the experience you would be looking for once again this year and a lot of eyes will be focused on the potential return to action of Cillian O'Connor in this one, with the Mayo marksman having missed all of Mayo's league action so far this year.

The home side will be looking to Darren Coen to lead the line up front for them and with his reintroduction to the Mayo fold culminating with an impressive showing in the league final two weeks ago, while Stephen Coen, Barry Sheridan and Conor Keane will all be key men. But Ballintubber will probably have just that bit too much for them.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Knockmore v Garrymore

Saturday at 7pm

This is another clash that should be very interesting over the weekend, with both teams fancying their chances of making a real dent in the latter stages of the competition.

The visitors have been knocking around somewhere between top four and top six clubs in the county over the last few years and will be keen to drive that on even further this year. So far in the league they have won two from two, seeing off Ballaghaderren on the road last weekend and Hollymount-Carramore at home in round one.

The hosts have championship pedigree running through their veins - but last year was one to forget for them, finishing bottom of their group and having to win in the relegation semi-final against Crossmolina Deel Rovers to ensure their place in the top flight for this term. So far this season in the league they have a 50 per cent record, losing to Aghamore by a single point last weekend, having beaten Kiltimagh in round one.

Verdict: Garrymore

Group Four

Ballaghaderreen v Claremorris

Saturday at 7pm

Both of these sides faced each other in round one in the league and it was the home team this weekend who went away with the points, running out 0-15 to 1-9 winners.

Since then, Ballagh' were beaten by Garrymore by five points at home last weekend in the league, while Claremorris held Westport to a draw away from home last Saturday night.

Both teams made it out of their respective groups last year, with Ballagh making it to the last four before Breaffy saw them off in that round, while Claremorris who made the semi-final in 2017 were eliminated by Castlebar Mitchels in the last eight stage.

Making it out of the group is a real goal for both teams this term again and a win in this round would be a major step in that direction and home advantage could be key to that.

Verdict: Ballaghaderreen

Belmullet v Charlestown

Saturday at 7pm

It'll be a long trek home for Charlestown on Saturday evening when this one is over, and facing a side still riding the waves of success from last year's intermediate title success will make this a very tricky encounter for Martin Mulvaney's men.

There is sure to be a big home crowd out for this one and Damien Mulligan will be hoping that the good vibes will transfer to the action on the field. Both teams are plying their trade in division two in the league. To date, Charlestown have had the better results, with two wins for two, seeing off Crossmolina Deel Rovers last weekend and Moy Davitts in round one.

Belmullet meanwhile have one point in the bank, thanks to a draw against Burrishoole at home in round one, while they were beaten by three points by Moy Davitts last weekend.

Verdict: Charlestown


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