The battle to win the Sweeney Cup and progress to the senior championship next year moves up a gear this weekend when the quarter-finals of the Mayo intermediate championship takes place.
Three of the last eight games are down for decision on Saturday with the fourth game taking place on Sunday afternoon in the county grounds. The action gets underway in Islandeady at 4.30pm with a tasty West Mayo derby between Louisburgh and Parke-Keelogues-Crimlin. The latter made their way out of the group in second place having not lost a game, drawing with table toppers Burrishoole on day one and backing that up with wins over Balla and Islandeady to finish on five points. Parke have always upped their game when it comes to championship and expect nothing less this weekend, Simon Cloherty and Pat Lynch will lead the line on scoring terms, while Simon Cloherty and Aaron McHale will also be key men.
Louisburgh had a 100 per cent in the group stages seeing off Shrule-Glencorrib and Lahardane before beating Kiltimagh in the final round of games. Kevin Gibbons will be their main man when it comes to scoring - but will be ably supported by veteran Austin O'Malley as they look to go one better than last year, when they also made it to the last eight - and they might just have enough to see pick up the win here.
At 5pm in Mayo Abbey, east meets south with Kiltimagh and The Neale to play - both sides fell to defeat in the final round of group games, but they had already assured themselves of a spot in the last eight by that stage. Kiltimagh are plying their trade in division one of the league and while they have only won two league games this season, mixing it with the senior sides on a regular basis will be a big advantage to them. Players like Donovon Cosgrove, Eoghan Lavin, Cillian Finn and Ronan Malee will be looked to lead them on the field by manager Ger McNicholas.
Like their opponents this weekend, The Neale made their way to the last four of the competition before coming undone at the semi-final stage. They have been flying in the league - albeit in division three - where they have won eight from nine and last weekend had a 3-13 to 1-10 win over Bonniconlon. Seanie Cosgrove is still kicking the points for Eoin Hughes' side while Tommy Conroy, Aidan O'Sullivan and Pauric Walsh will also be looked to as key men on the field - but Kiltimagh should have just enough to do it in this one.
In Charlestown at 5pm on Saturday there is the making of a real ding-dong battle when Ardnaree Sarsfields and Ballyhaunis go toe-to-toe. The east Mayo men won this title in 2014 and come into this game with two wins and one loss in the group stages and in some pretty decent league form, having won seven from nine. Keith Higgins is obviously their main man, but the likes of Eoghan Collins, Jason Coyne and Eamon Phillips, all have the potential to have a big say in the game. Ardnaree come into this one on the back of three wins from three in the group stages and will fancy their chances of picking up a place in the final four - in the league they are playing in division two and have won six from nine to sit in third place. Cian Burke, John Egan, Eoin McCormack and Chris Walsh will all be players that Jarlath Jennings will be hoping deliver for his side.
The final quarter-final pairing should be another humdinger of a contest when Crossmolina Deel Rovers and Burrishoole go head-to-head in MacHale Park on Sunday lunchtime. Burrishoole topped their all west Mayo group with two wins and a draw and in the league have won three, drawn two and lost four in division two. Colm McManamon's men lost last year's final to Belmullet and will be looking to go one better this time around - the loss of Jason Doherty will be a big hindrance in that drive. Alan Ryder, Michael Moran and Liam O'Malley will be looked to to be big leaders on the field and will all need big games. The Deel Rovers hadn't lit the grade up after dropping down from senior last year until their last championship outing, when they ran in 7-16 against Swinford. Players like Cathal Carolan, Fionn McDonagh and Conor Loftus are all more than capable of taking a game by the scruff of the neck. This one should go to the wire and is one to keep an eye on.
Mayo IFC Quarter Finals
Louisburgh v Parke-Keelogues-Crimlin, Saturday, September 21 at 4.30pm in Islandeady
The Neale v Kiltimagh, Saturday, September 21 at 5pm in Mayo Abbey
Ardnaree Sarsfields v Ballyhaunis, Saturday, September 21 at 5pm in Charlestown
Burrishoole v Crossmolina Deel Rovers, Sunday, September 22 at 1.30pm in MacHale Park
Mayo IFC Relegation Play-Off
Ballinrobe v Swinford, Sunday, September 22 at 1pm in Ballyhaunis
Shrule-Glencorrib v Islandeady, Sunday, September 22 at 3pm in Tourmakeady