I envisaged a surprise result or two in the senior championship last weekend. I didn't expect it to occur in Tallagh where county champions Knockmore came unstuck against Belmullet who made a mockery of the odds in a very low scoring contest winning by 2-04 to 1-04.
Wearing my parochial hat this was a disastrous result for Charlestown who now have to win or draw against Ray Dempsey 's wounded county champions in round three of group two. Belmullet's victory has certainly put the cat among the pigeons in that group with Damien Mulligan's team now in pole position to top group two.
Belmullet's final group game is against Aghamore who have nothing to play for, but pride. A roller coaster encounter under Friday night lights doesn't even go close to describing events that occurred between Aughamore and Charlestown in what turned out to be an enthralling contest.
Charlestown looked home and hosed and cruising to victory after going 11 points ahead in the second quarter thanks mainly in kind to the Lenehan brothers Paddy and Matthew. Matthew scoring two splendid goals after the first half water break. Aghamore didn't register their first score until the 15th minute, a goal from Conor Byrne after a fine mark by Sean Óg Tigue. Things went downhill for Charlestown from late in the first half up until the second half water break when they surrendered that 11-point lead conceding three goals and three points in the process without registering a score themselves. It was an unbelievable turn around.
Charlestown looked to be dead and buried when centre back David Caffrey was issued with a second yellow card with his team a point in arrears but to their credit they somehow managed to score the last three points of the game to win by two. Fergal Boland was in fine form for Aughamore scoring 1-05 while former county player Alan Freeman also goaled, scoring an opportunistic lob after a poor kick out. All matters considered, Charlestown were full value for their win with the Lenehan brothers proving very difficult to handle.
In group one Ballintubber have made it safely to the quarter finals with a game to spare after eventually getting the better of Davitts who find themselves at the bottom of the group and in a relegation dogfight after two losses. Ballina's crucial win over Claremorris has them in pole position to join Ballintubber out of the group. Claremorris need a small miracle to overtake the Stephenites. They will need to beat Ballintubber and hope Ballina slip up against Davitts at the same time, two unlikely outcomes.
Westport have topped group three after beating two strong contenders in Ballaghadeereen and Castlebar. Their game last weekend against the Mitchels was certainly the most appealing on paper but it turned out to be a very drab affair. The 0-1- 0-1 scoreline after the first water break tells you all you need to know from a quality point of view, things did liven up for the second quarter however.
Lee Keegan waltzed around Josie Munnelly Park like he hadn't a care in the world scoring a peach of a point in the second half but his marshalling of Neil Douglas was what he was really there for. It was a tough afternoon for Castlebar's ace marksman who despite getting a first half point from play struggled to get possession against All-Star in waiting Keegan. With such an amount of current and former inter county players on show I expected a much better quality contest.
Ballaghadeereen got the scare of their lives in the other group game against Balla needing a last ditch point from Kuba Callaghan to snatch victory to keep their chances alive. They too had a comfortable 11-point lead at one stage and almost surrendered it. It is all set up now for a mouth watering duel between themselves and Castlebar in the final group game to see who joins Westport in the quarter finals.
Garrymore and Breaffy have both been in impressive form and are through to the quarter finals without barely breaking a sweat in group four. Their final group game against each other will be telling as they fight it out to top the group. The Neale will be hoping home advantage and the long journey for Kiltane will count for something when they face each other in their final group game to see who maintains their status in the senior championship and who has a relegation battle. With the games coming thick and fast and some teams only having five days in between rounds 1 and 2 this weekend will bring a welcome break for managers and players to revive the batteries and get ready for some do or die battles next weekend.
Liam stepping aside
It came as a bit of a shock when I heard that county chairman Liam Moffett has decided to step away after two years at the helm, citing professional and family reasons for his departure. I can only imagine the strain involved in trying to raise a young family, run your own successful business and be in charge of Mayo GAA at the same time was having.
He certainly has left a very positive legacy fulfilling almost all of the goals he set out to do so. Mayo GAA made great strides under his leadership so long may that continue. I hope his successor continues his great work. I already can't wait to see the new playing surface on Hastings insurance Brokers McHale Park. Best of luck Liam.