The second round of action in the Mayo GAA Senior Football Championship saw plenty of thrills and spills last weekend across the county.
After two rounds of action just Castlebar Mitchels in group four are guaranteed their place in the last eight of the competition, but it is almost certain that unless a very unexpected set of results happen another handful of sides have more or less their place in the knock-out stages booked.
In group one last weekend, Westport followed up their big win over The Neale in round one with another impressive win, this time dispatching Ballintubber on a scoreline of 2-11 to 0-9. Westport rattled the back of the Ballintubber net twice in the first half with the impressive Finbar McLoughlin and Lee Keegan all raising the green flag to go in 2-5 to 0-4 in the lead at the break. While their second half wasn't as impressive they still managed to hold Ballintubber side who were missing Brian Walsh and Michael Plunkett from their starting team and lost Cillian O'Connor to injury at half-time at arm's length to pick up win number two of the championship.
The other game in the group saw Mayo Gaels pick up their first win at senior level since their promotion from intermediate last season when they saw off The Neale 3-10 to 1-7, Jack Fallon, John Gallagher and Liam Hughes all got in for a goal for the Gaels in the win against an injury hit Neale side, who saw Daniel Keane get their goal. The final round of action in the group in a week's time will see Ballintubber face The Neale in Garrymore and Mayo Gaels take on Westport in Tourmakeady.
In group two it's all to play for heading into round three following Ballina Stephenites' win over defending two time champions Knockmore in James Stephens Park last Sunday. Niall Heffernan's side hit three goals in the game to see off their neighbours 3-9 to 0-11, with the goals coming from Dylan Thornton, Conor McStay and Evan Regan. Knockmore have been here before in the group stages in recent years and still gone on to win the title, but it was still a big win for the Ballina men.
Aghamore gave themselves a fighting shot of making the last eight with a good 3-14 to 2-8 win over Ballaghderreen at home in their round two clash. Conor Byrne, Ross Egan and Darren Duffy got the goals for Aghamore, with Sharoize Akram and Cian Hanley netting for Ballaghderreen. Ballina sit on top of the group on three points with Knockmore and Aghamore on two while Ballaghaderreen have one point to their name heading into round three, where Aghamore and Ballina will meet in Castlebar and Knockmore will face Ballaghderren in Charlestown.
Claremorris threw the cat among the pigeons in group three with a 0-13 to 0-8 win over Belmullet in Tallagh last Sunday afternoon. The south Mayo men were good value for their win and should have probably won by more on the day where James Shaugnessy got four points and James McCormack and Stephen Gill both chipped in with two points each, while Eamon McAndrew top scored for Belmullet getting 1-2.
Breaffy took a step closer to booking their place in round two with their second win on the bounce seeing off Balla at home last Saturday night 1-13 to 0-8. They did the heavy lifting in the opening half to push themselves eight clear by the break, with Stephen McDermott's goal straight from a 45 proving crucial, while Tommy O'Reilly hit three points and both Aidan O'Shea and Robbie Fadden got two points each for the winners. Balla were dealt a serious blow with goalkeeper Matthew Flanagan picking up an injury in the warm up and they missed a second half penalty to close the gap when Breaffy were down to 14 men.
Breaffy sit top of the table on four points, with Claremorris and Belmullet on two points each and Balla at the bottom without a point yet, the final round of games will see Breaffy face Belmullet in Crossmolina and Balla and Claremorris tussle in Hollymount.
The only team to have confirmed their place in the knock-out stages of the competition did so on Sunday afternoon, when Castlebar Mitchels saw off a proud effort from Davitts in Ballindine on a score of 0-17 to 2-9. The hosts got off to a flying start with Ronan McNamara causing problems for them as a target man full forward. He was found for an early penalty that was converted by Niall Tracey and rattled home a late goal to bring his side close to Mitchels. But Castlebar were full value for their win, getting over the early jitters and with David Stenson, Neill Douglas and the ever impressive Donnie Newcombe driving them on to victory.
The other game in the group was a real barn-burner when Charlestown and Garrymore played out a thrilling draw that was highlighted by the top class performance of Paul Towey who kicked 10 points and some of them were exceptional scores. Garrymore looked to have the game well in control early on going into a six point lead in the opening exchanges, but Charlestown dug in and Towey's performance along with a goal from Joe McBrien had them leading in injury time, but Garry' kept coming and a late, late free from Darren Quinn saw them snatch a draw that leaves the group well balanced in regards to who will follow Mitchels into the last eight.
At the movement, Mitchels are on four points, Garrymore are on three, with Charlestown on one and Davitts without a point. The final round of group games will see Castlebar face off against Garrymore in Cong and Charlestown who will be looking for Mitchels to do them a favour playing Davitts in Ballyhaunis.