The club championship got under way and took centre stage last weekend. All senior games went ahead on Saturday evening when playing conditions were nothing short of atrocious, especially in the coastal venues in the county. The bizarre fact that neither Charlestown nor Belmullet registered a single score between them while playing against the hurricane in Belmullet was testament to how strong the breeze was.
Many Mayo players played pivotal roles for their clubs while other clubs had to contend without some of their county stars. In Breaffy's case it can only be a healthy sign to a win a game comfortably as they did against Davitts without the services of their two first choice midfielders, Seamus O'Shea and Matthew Ruane. Aidan O'Shea was very much to the fore as was former Mayo u21 All-Ireland winner Liam Irwin who scored five points for his team. This was the fifth year in a row Breaffy have accounted for Davitts in the group stages. We imagine they do not want to be drawn against them next year with that record.
Kiltane accounted for Moy Davitts by a single point in the other encounter in group one. Things could not be any tighter in group two, or the group of death as it may as well be called, now with both games in that group ending in draws. Qualifying from this group was supposed to be a straightforward event for Castlebar Mitchels, with Westport Aughamore and Ballina to fight it out to see who finished second, but things do not seem as straightforward any more. Ballina Stephenites put the Mitchels to the pin of their collar as Mitchels needed four late points to salvage a draw at home to a rejuvenated Ballina that have a nice sprinkling of inter county talent among their ranks now.
The senior championship needs a strong representation from the Stephenites. We have to wonder about Castlebar though, a team that looked virtually unbeatable two years ago. They seem to have lost their mojo, even with the acquisition of Donie Vaughan, a Rolls Royce signing that I thought might be the missing link in their pursuit of national, never mind county, glory. After the humbling they received at the hands of Breaffy in the league followed by the draw against Ballina, Castlebar certainly do not look like the team they once were. However we will not write them off.
Fionn McDonagh was a big loss for Westport in their tie against Aghamore. The home side will be disappointed they conceded a late point to share the spoils with the Covies. With a host of current inter county players on show in this encounter it was former Mayo player Alan Freeman who played a key part for Aughamore, scoring 0-4 of their 1-05 total. Freeman will be badly missed by his club for the remainder of the championship as he is travelling to Dubai shortly for work commitments.
Both games in group four were won by single points. Andy Moran proved the difference for Ballaghadeereen against Claremorris, scoring an impressive 1-7 in the process. His goal, an injury time penalty, looked like it had gone wide but much to the dismay of Claremorris and the delight of the Ballagh faithful the ball ripped through the bottom of the net to confuse all present. I would have a word with the groundsman. There was a welcome return to action for Cian Hanley after several months on the sideline, he also helped himself to a goal.
Belmullet's 0-8 to 0-7 win against Charlestown can be summarised simply. Belmullet scored their eight points in the first half and Charlestown scored their seven points in the second half. After witnessing some horrific playing conditions throughout the national league I did not think they could get any worse, but they did. The suspended Jack Reilly a huge loss for Charlestown as they failed to claw back that half time deficit. Chris Barrett and Eoin O'Donoghue were to the fore when Belmullet had their backs to the wall against the breeze.
In group three the headlines were all about the return of Cillian O Connor, who came off the bench in the second half for Ballintubber's facile 0-18 to 1-03 win over Hollymount-Carramore. It made for a welcome sight with Mayo’s championship getting under way in two weeks time. Former Mayo star Alan Dillon took time out from his busy campaign trail to put in a man of the match performance scoring four points. Knockmore will now be favourites to join the county champions out of group three after their 1-09 to 1-05 win over Garrymore.
I cannot let this week's column go without saying a massive congratulations and well done to the Charlestown u10 LGFA team who last Monday took part in a Go games activity day in Croke Park. It was a splendid occasion with the girls getting to realise their dreams and play on the hallowed turf. It was an added bonus that they won all their games. Well done to all involved.