Mayo SFC Group 1

Charlestown v Castlebar

In Charlestown

Saturday May 30 at 7pm

Ref: K Connelly

Is this the year that Castlebar finally turn all their potential into something more substantial? Castlebar’s management team led by Peter Ford and Tommy O’Malley will know that it is high time their side started to deliver on the field, the addition of Pat Kelly, an All Ireland club winner with St Vincent’s in 2008, will have given their squad a huge boost, but now is the time to show it on the field. They will be short two of their stars on Saturday evening with Richie Feeney suspended and Tom Cunniffe out injured, so they will be looking to the likes of Barry Moran and Sean Ryder to lead the line against Charlestown.

And where to this year for the east Mayo men? There is only one direction they want to go and that is get their hands on the Moclair Cup. They have been in the last two county finals and definitely left one of them behind, so they will be hoping that it will be third time lucky for them. Ciaran McBrien’s men have only lost one of their first five league games this season and at home will fancy their chances of turning over the county town men. They also have their own problems with injury with both David Caffrey and Sean Lenehan out of the game. There is one thing Charlestown know how do and that is play championship football, while Castlebar still seem to be a work in progress.

Verdict: Charlestown

Mayo SFC Group 2

Ballinrobe v Ballina

In Ballinrobe

Saturday May 30 at 7pm - Ref: P Geraghty

This one could be billed as the rising stars against those who could be on the verge of burning out. Ballinrobe seem to have found themselves under the guidance of Norman O’Brien who brought Kilmaine to the intermediate county final last year and has Ballinrobe flying. They have won four of their five league games so far this season and know that a win on Saturday is essential if they have any serious designs on progress in the senior championship.

The last couple of years have seen Ballinrobe squeezed out of qualification from the group stages and the south Mayo men really have to make the breakthrough to the quarter finals at least, this year. Donal Vaughan, Kenneth O’Malley, Sean Grimes, and James O’Malley have all been in good form and will be relishing the chance to have a cut at the Stephenites on Saturday.

The other side of the coin is Liam McHale’s Ballina, after last year’s disastrous championship they really will want to come out of the gates flying this year. They have already tasted defeat at the hands of Ballinrobe in Flanagan Park at the start of the month, by a whopping 10 points and will be still smarting from it. McHale also has to deal with the loss of a number of players who have headed to greener shores such as Shane Melia and Stephen Hughes. But the Stephenites are a proud bunch and know what it takes to win championship football. This is one where it should come down to very little at the end.

Verdict: Ballina Stephenites

Mayo SFC Group 2

Crossmolina v Knockmore

In Crossmolina

Sunday May 31 at 6pm - Ref: M Kenny

This is the one everyone wants to be at, for the neutral observer it promises to be the game of the weekend. The wily old veterans from Crossmolina with a sprinkling of up and coming youth against the coming of age men from Knockmore, who have added their own dash of experience with the return of Kevin O’Neill to their ranks.

Both sides, on paper, should make it through to the knock out stages, but a defeat would leave either side chasing their tales and not knowing their fate till the final day, when the victors could already be safely through and put out a weakened side leading to elimination.

But that is of no concern this Bank Holiday Sunday evening, it is a real too close to call game. Both sides have been far from spectacular in the league so far, only picking up one win from the three games each has played, but championship football is what these sides are all about. Knockmore will be looking to O’Neill to pull the strings for his fellow forwards Aidan Kilcoyne and Damien Munnelly, and the veteran still knows where the posts are himself as his seven point display in his first game back showed.

Crossmolina this year have John Maughan back at the helm in his hometown club, and he will have had this date marked in the diary as soon as the draw was made. Ciaran McDonald is a injury worry with a knee problem, and if he misses out his loss will be huge. But Crossmolina have enough experience and quality in their ranks to still get the job done, and playing at home could be the decisive factor in this one. Verdict: Crossmolina

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