With the senior inter-county season put to bed for another year, things will return to normal on the club scene. And this weekend sees no time being wasted in Mayo with the final rounds of club games in the senior and intermediate football championships down for decision. In the premier competition only two teams have already booked their place in the last eight, both Shrule-Glencorrib and Ballaghaderreen have emerged from section three of the competition, with both sides picking up wins over luckless Breaffy and Burrishoole in their opening two games. The sides will meet again this weekend to sort out who takes top spot in the group and with that the perceived easier draw in the chase for a last eight spot. Shrule-Glencorrib have made up for the disappointment of missing out on the last eight in the last two years to book their place early, but this evening’s game could see them ship a defeat to the current county champions. With Andy Moran and Barry Regan in spectacular form for their side, the east Mayo men’s perceived greater fire power should be enough to see them over the south Mayo men. That said, any side that counts Conor and Trevor Mortimer, Mark Ronaldson, and Kieran Conroy in their starting 15 are not going to be a pushover. In the other game in this group Breaffy will host Burrishoole on Sunday afternoon for the chance to end their championship season on Martin Murphy’s full time whistle. Both sides have lost their first two games in the championship, with the losers on Sunday facing a relegation play-off to ensure their senior status. Things have gone to pieces for Breaffy this year, but they should have enough fight in them to hold off the challenge from the McGovern Park side and ensure their status and regroup for next year.
Still a lot to play for
Going back through the other teams in section one it is still technically possible for all the sides to make it through to the last eight, but Charlestown and Castlebar Mitchels are the favourites to make it through to the next round of the competition. Last year’s beaten finalists have a home tie with Aghamore, who won last year’s intermediate title. Garrymore’s shock draw with Charlestown in the last round came as a surprise to many and Charlestown will be looking not to make a similar mistake this time. Aghamore will be a tricky opponent and won’t give up without a fight as a win will put them into the last eight, as could a draw depending on how results go elsewhere. Castlebar have been knocking on the door of a breakthrough for the past couple of years but as yet haven’t made it. They will be thanking the luck of the draw that this game isn’t in south Mayo as it would, on paper, have become a much tougher assignment. Mitchels struggled to see off Aghamore in the last round despite looking to have the game wrapped up before half time, and this time they can’t make any mistakes or their championship season could end this weekend.
Group of death has one more victim to claim
As soon as the draw was made for the championship, section two had the look of a group that would go right to the death. Crossmolina, Ballina, and Knockmore all in the one group, a tasty menu for any football fan. The draw seems to have favoured John Maughan’s men, they finish off on Saturday with a home game against an already out of contention Ballinrobe, they know that a win or a draw will send them through, and with Ballinrobe having very little to play for but pride at this stage no other result can really be seen than a Deel Rovers win.
Which leaves the other game down for decision on Saturday evening, Ballina must make the short trip to Knockmore. As far as local derbies go not many will match the intensity of this one, Knockmore hold the advantage in the standings, thanks to their draw against Crossmolina. A point will put them through to the last eight, but holding out for a draw will be the last thing they can think off against the Stephenites. There won’t be much between the sides in any of the on-field match-ups, but with Aidan Kilcoyne now out of the game for the Knockmore men, Ballina have one fewer scoring threat to close down. It will be close, but home advantage could be the decisive factor in Nigel Reape’s side putting both feet firmly in the quarter final draw.
Where did it all go wrong for Claremorris?
The big question in section four of the senior championship is where has it all gone wrong for Claremorris? Niall Heffernan’s charges were one of the dark horses for this year’s title, but things just haven’t fired for the south Mayo men this year in the championship. Successive defeats to Ballintubber and Kiltane leave them rock bottom of the table and out of the reckoning. Their opponents this weekend, Moy Davitts, know that a win should be enough to see them into the next stage of the competition. They currently sit in second place in the table, level on points with Kiltane but with a nine-point swing in their favour. Kiltane have the task of heading to Clogher and looking to do something that no one else has done this season, take a point off Ballintubber. The Clogher based side have a 100 per cent record in both league and championship and have laid out a real marker of intent for their aspirations this year and it’s hard to see anything other than another win for James Horan’s side this weekend. So the six to join the already through Shrule-Glencorrib and Ballaghaderreen should be Charlestown, Castlebar, Crossmolina, Knockmore, Ballintubber and Moy Davitts.