This weekend sees the Mayo senior club championships reach the last quarter final stage with all eight sides left in the competition having realistic chances of making the last four of the competition. The action gets under way in the senior championship on Saturday evening in Castlebar, which will host two more games on Sunday, with the fourth clash of the round taking place in Ballina on Sunday afternoon.
Castlebar Mitchels and Shrule/Glencorrib will get the action under way in McHale Park at 5.30pm on Saturday and both sides will fancy their chances of coming out of the game on top. Shrule/Glencorrib went through the group stages unbeaten picking up wins over Breaffy, Burrishoole, and defending champions Ballaghaderreen, the only side to have a 100 per cent record still in the championship. This is the first year since 2006 that they managed to get out of their group and Stephen Joyce’s men look well equipped to take on any side left in the competition. With the likes of Marc Ronaldson, Conor and Trevor Mortimer, Kieran Conroy, and Dermot Geraghty in the side Mitchels will be in for a tough evening on Saturday if they are to make it into the semi-finals, for the first time in a long time.
Peter Ford’s men on paper have an awful lot going for them, a youthful side with plenty of experience at inter-county level in underage ranks, combined with a few older heads who will be vital to steady the cause when the crunch comes on Saturday evening. The county town side will be looking to Barry Moran and Alan Feeney for leadership on Saturday night while Niall Douglas and Aidan Walsh will be expected to lead the line for them in the forwards, but they will still be without the services of the long term injured Tom Cunniffe from their defence. This game should be a close one and not decided till right at the death, but Shrule/Glencorrib just look to be the side to sneak out on the narrow side of a win.
Triple threat on Sunday
Sunday’s first game in McHale Park is one that no one is going into with any certainty of who is going to win it. Ballintubber will make the short hop into Castlebar to take on Knockmore in what will be the stiffest test for James Horan side this year. Ballintubber have been the team of the season so far, they haven’t been beaten in league or championship this year (a total of 12 games ) and will be going into this game full of confidence of taking the win, as they should be. But this is championship football and standing in their way is Knockmore. Alan Dillion will be expected to lead the line for the west Mayo men, whoever Knockmore get to try to shackle him could have a big outcome on the result. Trevor Holwey could be the prime suspect for this role, Ballintubber duo of Dean Gavin and Jason Gibbons have been in great form in midfield and if they get control on Sunday Knockmore will be in trouble. The north Mayo men also have to deal with the absence of Aidan Kilcoyne who will be a huge loss to them, but the return to the fold this year of veteran Kevin O’Neill could prove decisive in swinging the tie in the north Mayo men’s favour.
While Ballintubber and Knockmore are getting to know each other, in James Stephen’s Park in Ballina there is a game that has all the makings of an ambush taking place. Charlestown have been in the last two county finals and come up just short on each occasion, this year Ciaran McBrien’s men have seemed to be intent on making it third time lucky. They got a shock in the group stages against Garrymore and will not want to get caught a second time. All reason and logic would point towards a Charlestown win, they are strong, fast, and have plenty of very good players all over the field and are even tagged as second favourites to lift the title by some bookmakers. But Kiltane in championship football is a tough task, and while it may not be in their own back yard, the north Mayo venue could be the perfect venue for an ambush. They have surprised many by getting this far in the competition, they will work hard, hit hard, and leave everything on the field, but you have to still expect Charleston’s overall class to come through at the end.
The game of the weekend?
The final action of the weekend in the senior championship will see the tie of the round, the defending champions Ballaghaderreen take on the past masters from Crossmolina. Last year Ballaghaderreen finally fulfilled their potential and won the county title, they won’t be giving up their crown that easily. On the way to the final last year they beat Crossmolina in the semi-final, thanks to a flurry of three goals in a few minutes which skewed an up to then very close encounter in their favour, and Crossmolina have been waiting for a chance to hit back since then. While Ballaghaderreen will go into the game as favourites it will be interesting to see who has the greatest hunger on Sunday. Ballaghaderreen have the title and Crossmolina dearly want it back, John Maughan will demand nothing more from his side on Sunday. It is one of those too close to call games, but with the greater hunger Crossmolina may have just enough to go back to the well one more time and send the champions packing.