Festival of football in MacHale Park this weekend

GAA: Mayo GAA Senior Football Championship Quarter-Finals

And then there was Eight " The quarter finalists of  the Connacht Gold  Mayo Senior Football Championship 2020 that  place this weekend at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pictured are: Padraig O'Hora (Ballina Stephenites),  James Lyons (Aghamore),  Lee Keegan (Westport), Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), John Connor (Sales Manager Connacht Gold), Aiden O'Shea (Breaffy),  Aidan O'Sullivan (The Neale), Kuba Callaghan (Ballaghaderreen) and David McHale (Knockmore). Photo: Conor McKeown

And then there was Eight " The quarter finalists of the Connacht Gold Mayo Senior Football Championship 2020 that place this weekend at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pictured are: Padraig O'Hora (Ballina Stephenites), James Lyons (Aghamore), Lee Keegan (Westport), Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber), John Connor (Sales Manager Connacht Gold), Aiden O'Shea (Breaffy), Aidan O'Sullivan (The Neale), Kuba Callaghan (Ballaghaderreen) and David McHale (Knockmore). Photo: Conor McKeown

It will be a quarter final weekend like no other in MacHale Park this weekend - as the best eight sides in the county will go toe-to-toe in front of only a handful of people.

Normally this weekend is one of the big ones for football supporters in the county, but they will have to make do on the couch with RTE showing both games on Saturday evening and Mayo GAA TV broadcasting the fare on Sunday.

 

Ballintubber v Knockmore

Saturday, August 29 at 5.30pm

With just over a quarter of their game to go, last weekend Knockmore looked to be on course to see off Ballina Stephenites and top their group - but the wheels came off down the final furlong and their prize for finishing second is a date with three-in-a-row chasing Ballintubber in the last eight.

Ray Dempsey has crafted a very good side who are strong in defence and normally take advantage when the chances present themselves in attack, but he will be disappointed with how things played out last weekend and knows they will be up against it when they face Ballintubber.

Kevin Johnson's men got the job done with the minimum of fuss last weekend against Davitts and they did so without Cillian O'Connor, who had to sit that game out - letting the former Mayo captain sit out this one is something he will hope they won't have to do this weekend. Ballintubber have their game plan down to a tee and are as efficient a side you'll see and will be favourites to come through this one, but Knockmore won't let them win easy.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Ballaghaderreen v Breaffy

Saturday, August 29 at 5.30pm

Ballaghaderreen had the job done ahead of last weekend's round of group games, but they were still involved in the most dramatic of all storylines - playing the third hand in the dance for the last eight that played out between The Neale and Belmullet.

Last year's beaten county finalists had the heavy lifting done in the first two rounds, but they still managed to see off The Neale last Sunday by seven points without the services of Cian Hanley and Shaoize Akram - and Paul McHugh will be hoping that they are back in harness for tomorrow night.

Breaffy knew they had to win last Saturday evening against Charlestown to get back to the last eight and they did that, just about on the scoreboard, winning by a single point in a game they were probably a few points better off than the scoreboard said at the end. They have struggled to hold on to leads in the past few years and that almost came back to haunt them last weekend. They also will be light in defence with Conor Beirne out injured from the Castlebar game and Dylan Cannon picking up a straight red right at the end last Saturday.

This is probably the closest game to call over the weekend with both sides fairly evenly matched, but the east Mayo men might just shade it.

Verdict: Ballaghaderreen

Westport v The Neale

Sunday, August 30 at 2pm

For The Neale to even be here is the story of the season, last year's intermediate champions would have been assumed to have been happy to just hold on to their senior status from their first swing at the big time, but here they are. It came down to the slimmest of margins.

Aiden O'Sullivan's late point saw the scoring difference swing back in their favour and push them into the last eight, despite going down to Ballaghaderreen by seven points. While they will be delighted to be here, The Neale are going to want to show they really belong here on Sunday.

However standing in their way are one of the form teams in the county. The Westport project has been worked on for a number of years now and this year it looks like they have a real shot at making a right good go at winning the Moclair Cup. They saw off Breaffy on the road in round one, were held by Charlestown in round two - but when it really matters - as in last weekend - they comfortably dismembered the challenge of former county Kingpins Castlebar Mitchels in style. They play with real pace and power in both attack and defence and will be looking to show another marker of intent this weekend.

Verdict: Westport

Ballina Stephenites v Aghamore

Sunday, August 30 at 4pm

The Stephenites are on the way back up and they were able to figure out the conundrum that Knockmore posed for them down the home straight last weekend to top their group.

Confidence will be high in the north Mayo men - but with Ger Cafferkey missing out last weekend, potentially they will be missing a key component of their defence. They weren't at the top of their game for long periods last Saturday night against Knockmore, but they took advantage of the luck that came their way when Evan Regan poached a goal he really shouldn't have, to keep them in touch; and when they got on a run in the final quarter, they drove over the finish line. The confidence is back and they will fancy their chances of making a real go at winning the title this year.

Aghamore came out of their group unbeaten - which is no mean achievement - with Ballintubber being the other qualifier from that group; they have done it without Brendan Harrison too, which shows there is depth and talent there to call on. Fergal Boland has been the key man for them this year along with the likes of David Kenny and Ross Egan - and they will need them all at full tilt on Sunday.

Verdict: Ballina Stephenites

 

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