It was a feast of club championship football in Mayo last weekend with the final eight teams confirming their involvement in the senior championship quarter finals. Davitts joined Breaffy out of group one after a very impressive 3-14 to 2-08 victory over Kiltane, securing second spot in the group.
Despite Breaffy having already qualified they rolled out all their big guns for an easy 1-17 to 0-8 point victory over Moy Davitts, who had nothing to play for. Breaffy look a real powerful outfit and any team that boasts the services of the O'Shea brothers, Robbie Hennelly and Mattie Ruane, certainly have to be given respect. They completely overpowered their East Mayo opponents in Charlestown and dare I say it, but now is the time for this Breaffy team to deliver on all the promise they have shown, coupled with the personnel they have.
All of their forwards got on the score sheet against Moy Davitts. What more can you say about Davitts? Playing in division three of the league and despite losing their first round game to Breaffy back in April, they showed tremendous determination to dish out fairly comprehensive nine point wins to Moy Davitts and Kiltane last weekend to secure their last eight place. Upon watching Moy Davitts against Breaffy, I wouldn't be too hopeful for their survival in the senior championship as they face into a relegation play-off against Westport.
In group two, Castlebar narrowly escaped going out of the championship, defeating Aughamore by just two points in a winner-takes-all round three clash. It was a very nervy encounter for the Mitchels who were behind going down the stretch. Ballina join Castlebar after an impressive win against Westport. With a nice sprinkling of inter-county talent, Ballina could be the dark horses in this year's senior championship. Despite Westport's improvements over the years, they find themselves in a relegation dog fight.
Knockmore needed to call on all their experience to win against Hollymount-Carramore in a thoroughly enjoyable encounter in Charlestown to qualify with county champions Ballintubber out of group three. Knockmore looked in real trouble at the start of the second half going four points down, thanks mainly to a Darren Coen scoring blitz; he Mayo forward bagging himself 1-3 in a devastating five minute spell for Hollymount-Carramore.
Ballintubber, who had already qualified, surprisingly lost to Garrymore in their final group game. Ballaghaderreen defeated Belmullet in group four in a game that decided who finished top of the group as both teams had already qualified. Charlestown confirmed their senior status with a nail biting victory over Claremorris in the other game in group four. The quarter final pairings make for interesting encounters, Ballintubber v Belmullet, Castlebar v Knockmore, Breaffy v Ballina and Ballaghadeereen v Davitts.
All eyes will be back on Croker tomorrow
The All-Ireland final replay is something we can look forward to as neutrals on Saturday evening. The general consensus is that Kerry have missed the boat but they certainly don't feel that way. Despite so many pivotal Dublin players having off days in the drawn game, Kerry feel the players now know they have the beating of the Dubs and can point to a host of goal chances coughed up along with a little inexperience at the end as to why they didn't win the drawn game. They certainly don't suffer from an inferiority complex, that’s for sure.
I admired Dublin for the way they hung in despite being reduced to 14 men in the first half. Can you really envisage a game again that Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Mannion will be so quiet in? I can't.
Peter Keane has a bit of thinking to do as to how to curb the obvious threat of Jack McCaffrey. Jim Gavin’s reluctance to fix the Johnny Copper/ David Clifford issue and also to empty his bench a lot earlier than he did in the drawn game, is something we don't associate with the Dublin supremo.
The last time I heard anyone criticise Gavin was the only time he has experienced a defeat in the championship, against Donegal in the 2014 semi final. Brian fenton has still never lost a championship match. I expect that record to be still standing on Saturday evening.
Caff calls it a day
Ger Cafferky has become the second current player to call time on his Mayo career, having represented the county with distinction 104 times. Ironically, he got man-of-the-match in his last full outing, which was against Cavan this year in round three of the league; but injuries curtailed any further involvement as he was subbed early against Dublin in round four of this year's league.
I had the misfortune of marking Ger in a league game a good few years ago when he was in his prime and I was only making up numbers for my club. I realised very early the big mistake I had made trying to match up against a well-oiled inter-county machine and when I realised I was fighting a lost battle, I spent most of the game trying to distract him with humoured banter - but that didn't work either.
His warm-up routine before a Mayo game was certainly a sight to behold. He used to simulate marking shadows across the D, doing all the twists and turns he might encounter during the game, I think he may even have spoken to the Shadows. Congrats Ger on a great career.