Great to have the action back on the local scene

GAA: Casey's Call

Leading light: Tommy Conroy hit nine points for The Neale at the weekend, but they were still overpowered by Breaffy. Photo: Sportsfile.

Leading light: Tommy Conroy hit nine points for The Neale at the weekend, but they were still overpowered by Breaffy. Photo: Sportsfile.

There were no major shocks as the first round of the Mayo GAA senior championship got under way last weekend but there certainly were some stand-out results and other nail-biting games that went to the wire.

It was also the first time our county players had to put themselves in the public eye after the set-back of losing the All-Ireland final. It's not the easiest thing to do, to don a club jersey for a championship battle so soon after a heartbreaking defeat, especially in an All-Ireland final.

Folk that were lauding you one week were all of a sudden on your back the next; the beauty and difference of club and county football. Last year, if you remember, because of covid restrictions, the club championship was run off before the inter-county championship, meaning players didn't have any county hangovers or weren't affected by the physical and mental fatigue that inter-county football brings upon you and therefore, county players were able to flourish for their clubs in 2020. This time around it's different. We will watch with keen interest how Mayo players perform for their clubs and if they are affected by such fatigue.

County champions Knockmore got off to the perfect start with a comfortable home win over Aughamore winning by 1-13 to 0-10. Ray Dempsey wasn't really sure where his team were at coming into this game after a few poor League results and whether his team were up for the fight of retaining the Moclair cup; they answered that emphatically.

Dempsey was a keen observer at the other game in group two played in terribly wet, slippery conditions, where Charlestown and Belmullet couldn't be separated in Fr O Hara Park Charlestown.

Two first half goals for Belmullet had them in pole position leading by six points at one stage in the opening half; the first goal after a brilliant interchange between Ryan and Eoin O'Donoghue before the latter drilled low past Niall Fleming in the Charlestown goal.

Ryan's foot pass to his county colleague was sublime to say the least. To their credit, Charlestown rallied at half time and dominated proceedings for the second period and despite going ahead late on, Ryan O'Donoghue levelled matters with a late free. Charlestown will feel this was a chance spurned as they had thwarted the threat of the Belmullet attack for the second half but failed to capitalise with some poor shooting. The meeting of Charlestown and Aughamore in round two on Friday night is a must win for both teams.

In group one Ballintubber laid down a real marker hammering some people's fancy, Ballina, by 3-13 to 1-10. Ballina now find themselves under pressure to get results against Claremorris and Davitts whose South Mayo Derby game went to the wire, Claremorris coming out on top by the slimmest of margins on a scoreline of 2-11 to 0-16.

Cillian's O Connor's loss to Ballintubber could prove immeasurable at club level although they will be strongly fancied to top group one now. Balla's return to senior championship wasn't the easiest for them as they went down to neighbours Castlebar Mitchels by 1-09 to 1-14. Despite having so many players with plenty of county medals in their ranks, the Mitchels seem like a team in transition; the evergreen Neil Douglas top scoring for Castlebar with 1-05. Six years ago you would have dreaded to be pitted against the Mitchels, teams don't fear them as much any more.

Two of the big guns went toe-to-toe in the other game in group three. Despite the emphatic looking scoreline of Westport 1-16 Ballaghadeereen 1-08, this game was a lot more competitive than the eight points winning margin suggests. With a huge array of talent on show, Westport left it late to decide the outcome, hitting 1-03 very late on.

It's not often a player from the losing team gets the man of the match award; when you lose by 12 points, it's virtually impossible, unless you are Tommy Conroy of course. The Neale flyer put on an exhibition and showed no ill effects after the All-Ireland loss, scoring nine points for his team, 0-6 from open play. Breaffy were very impressive scoring 1-23 with Conor O Shea helping himself to 0-5.

Kiltane are under all sorts of pressure after losing out to Garrymore in the other game in group 4; Liam og Horkan scoring 2-01 for the victors who have set themselves up nicely to make the quarter finals. Kiltane face a daunting task against Breaffy this weekend to keep their championship hopes alive for 2021.

This weekend is moving weekend and will tell a lot as to where the Moclair cup may reside for the year. I just hope as many teams as possible have something to play for going into the final group games although that is wishful thinking as some teams will have no points after round 2. I expect a few surprises this weekend.

It was with great sadness we learned of the passing of Paddy Prendergast, fullback on the victorious Mayo teams of 1950 & 51. Fondly remembered as one of our greats. Condolences to all his family and many friends. May he rest in peace.


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