Nothing ever comes easy at the intermediate grade and this year is proving to be no different - last year's beaten finalists are out of the competition after the group stage.
The team, relegated from senior, just edged over the line to make it to the quarter-finals and the junior champions from last year are looking to bounce straight out of the grade - and that is just a small portion of the stories we've seen unfold so far.
Moy Davitts looking to take the wind out of the Gaels
The late game on Saturday night, the third of three games down for decision in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence on Saturday, is the meeting of a side who have been building nicely over recent years in a drive to make it to senior status and the ones who are looking to bounce straight back up after one year's exile from the top table. Mayo Gaels are a side that have been fancied to make the breakthrough in recent years and they made their way out of a tricky looking group with full points following wins over Hollymount-Carramore, Burrishoole and Lahardane. Adam and John Gallagher have been leading lights for the Mayo Abbey men up front, they'll be hoping that Adam will be able to play after going off injured in their win over Lahardane. Ruairi Kean has been an impressive performer at the back and they'll need more of that from him come Saturday night along with big showings from Ethan Henry and James Jennings. The Moysiders made the last eight by the skin of their teeth last Sunday morning in Parke, where Bonniconlon pushed them right to the wire in a game they looked to have been well on top in for long parts. Liam Byrne netted inside the opening exchanges and goals from Brian Heneghan and a second goal from Byrne in the second half looked to have them well on the way to victory, but they faded out of the game and Bonniconlon pushed them right to the wire and only for a few missed chances could be looking forward to a spot in the last eight. Moy Davitts will need the likes of Heneghan, Cian McHale, Darragh Ruane and Byrne to all hit top form in what should be a nail-biting encounter.
Southern risers look to cross Deel challenge
This one looks like another thriller and one that is hard to call where it will go at the end. Kilmaine are riding the crest of a wave after winning last year's junior crown, while Crossmolina Deel Rovers are looking to escape the clutches of the middle grade and get back to where they'll feel they belong at the top table. The Deel Rovers emerged from a tough group that saw them pip both Ballyhaunis and Castlebar Mitchels B and see off Ballinrobe in round three to make it back to the last eight, where they exited the competition last year. Jordan Flynn and Conor Loftus bring plenty of inter-county experience to the table, while Fionan Duffy has been impressing with his score-getting ability this term. Kilmaine will be pleased with the progress they have made so far this season in their first ever in the middle tier, but that will be something to look back on later in the winter. David O'Loughlin's men will be fully focused on a shot at the semi-finals here and with Oisin Mullin the driving heartbeat of the team, they'll have a great chance of making it. But they will need everyone to step up a level and the likes of Adam Barrett, Jarlath Mullin and Michael Hession are more than capable of delivering on the big stage. This one could go all the way to extra-time and beyond.
Seasiders face off against southern stallions
Both of these sides will have serious designs on lifting the title, making this clash all the more fascinating when Lousiburgh and Hollymount-Carramore clash in Islandeady on Saturday afternoon. The coastal collective have been in fine form this year and made it to this stage getting out of a tricky group, including eliminating last year's beaten finalists, Kiltimagh, from the competition on the closing day of the group stages. Padraig Prendergast in the middle third along with Alfie Morrision at the back are going to be key men, but they will be counting on the likes of Padraic O'Malley, Sean Keane and Oisin Lally to lead them up front. The men from the south, can call on the inter-county experience of the dead-eyed shooter Darren Coen and Stephen Coen's composure and work-rate in the middle third of the field. They looked like they were heading out of the competition through the trap door for long periods against Burrishoole, but pulled it out of the fire when the needs were greatest. Whoever comes out of this will be in good stead for whatever comes up in the semi-final.
West meets east in Charlestown
One thing is for sure, there will not be very much between these sides come the final whistle on Sunday afternoon in Charlestown. Parke-Keelogues-Crimlin have been looking good all year, they've been a consistent competitor at this grade in recent years and they've been able to handle the challenge put up to them by the three sides they've met in the group stages and will head into this one full of confidence. Dunne has them playing some exciting football and with Ronan Carolan leading the way up top alongside veteran Simon Cloherty, while Aaron McHale and Ray Neary are all key men for the black and amber brigade. Ballyhaunis just edged their way into the last eight on Sunday morning last with a narrow one point win over Castlebar Mitchels B. Jason Coyne was the main man for the east Mayo men hitting seven points, while at the back Mayo panelist Jack Coyne and former Mayo star Keith Higgins will have to keep things tight on the Parke attackers. They'll also be looking for big games from the likes of Morgan Lyons and Cormac Phillips. Nothing will be easy in this one either and making sure that the chances that are presented to them will be key to deciding the winners.
Mayo GAA Intermediate Football Championship Quarter Finals
Saturday, October 23
Mayo Gaels v Moy Davitts at 8pm in Connacht GAA COE
Crossmolina v Kilmaine at 3pm in Swinford
Louisburgh v Hollymount-Carramore at 3pm in Islandeady
Sunday, October 24
Parke-Keelogues-Crimlin v Ballyhaunis at 2pm in Charlestown