It’s like waiting for a bus, you wait for ages with none coming and then two come at once in the Mayo club championships. After last weekend’s fixture load of quarter finals at different grades, this weekend sees a patchwork affair of games across the levels. From a senior semi-final right down through senior and intermediate relegation play offs to action in the junior championship. There are 10 games of serious note this weekend to keep everyone entertained.
The big one of course will throw in at 2pm in McHale Park on Sunday when Crossmolina square up with Knockmore in the senior championship semi-final. Both sides head into the game just seven days after tough quarter final wins, John Maughan’s Crossmolina will go in as favourites thanks to their recent history and due to their seeing off last years champions Ballaghaderreen by three points. Even though they did have to thank the crossbar and then the foot of James Nallen on the line, from stopping Andy Moran’s last gasp effort from a free sending their quarter final to a replay. But on the balance of play Crossmolina were good value for their win with Joe Keane the star man for them, he covered acres of ground for his side despite spending a lot of the time playing full forward. Crossmolina went out with a game plan in mind as how to shut down Ballaghaderreen and they stuck to it for the 60 minutes, James Nallen, the other Joe Keane, Michael Gallagher, and Ciaran McDonald all put in good shifts to seal the deal for the Deel Rovers men.
Knockmore put down ‘Tubber challenge
Their opponents on Sunday were the first team to beat Ballintubber in serious competitive competition in what was an fairly poor game of football. Knockmore looked to have the game wrapped up as early as the first quarter when they hit Ballintubber for seven points, but only managed to tag on two more over the rest of the game which will be a worry for Nigel Reape going into Sunday’s game. Kevin O’Neill was once again the main man for his side, kicking seven points in the game, and will be sure to get special attention from Crossmolina on Sunday. Trevor Howley and John Brogan also had solid games, and while Damien Munnelly had a quiet afternoon compared to his usual standards he will still have to be watched come Sunday.
Castlebar and Shrule-Glenncorrib will have to do it all over again on Sunday afternoon in McHale Park after a entertaining if not high quality draw last Saturday evening. The south Mayo men snatched a draw and could have won it late on, but that would have been unfair on a Mitchels side whose defence stood strong throughout, but their attack failed to spark, to kill off the game, when they probably should have. Shrule got a draw despite only having two people score for them, Mark Ronaldson who bagged the goal and Conor Mortimer who did most of the damage from placed balls, and some of the frees looked very soft also. Both sides will get a chance to put it right again on Sunday evening, unfortunately for Mitchels they may have missed the boat on this one as Shrule-Glenncorrib probably have more to come on Sunday. But if Alan Feeney can be as inspirational as he was last weekend it will be a struggle for the south Mayo men.
Down the bottom of the senior ranks there are four teams with far greater worries than those still chasing silverware, the bottom four sides from the group stages have been fretting since the last day of the round robin about maintaining their senior status for next year. They all have their first chance to maintain safety on Saturday evening. Ballinrobe and Moy Davitts will clash in Hollymount on Saturday evening. Ballinrobe were in the group of death with Ballina, Knockmore, and Crossmolina, so they have been tested against the best already this year. Garrymore have been a fixture in the senior championship for years and won’t give up till the bitter end. But Ballinrobe probably will have enough to keep themselves safe and send Garrymore into the last chance saloon.
The other relegation play off is a real toss of the coin affair. Burrishoole and Moy Davitts will trek to Crossmolina on Saturday evening. Moy Davitts on paper look like the best bet to come through and were in with a shout of actually making the last eight up till the final whistle in the last round of games of the group stages. Burrishoole haven’t been winning, but they are never going to be easy to beat. It will probably be a low scoring affair with defences key, but the Moy Davitts having just enough at the end.
Intermediate championship takes shape
With Belmullet finally able to shake off Davitts last weekend in the intermediate championship, the final quarter final pairing was eventually matched up. They will be in action for the fourth week in a row and their reward is a tough north Mayo dual with Cill Chomain in Bangor. A good old fashioned championship encounter is promised by this pairing, the deciding factor will probably come down to whether Belmullet’s three games in three weeks will be the right match practice for them or if they will not have enough left in the tank. And with Cill Chomain out of action for so long will they be up to championship speed once the ball is thrown in? One thing is for sure it will be an exciting encounter.
At least one of the teams to make it into the intermediate final will hopefully be known on Saturday evening when Kilmaine and Westport meet in McHale Park. Westport are the favourites and on paper should claim the title this year, they were favourites last year also when both sides met at the same side only for the south Mayo men to come out on top. But this year, Westport look to have got their house properly in order and even with a few major players missing through injury the Covies should make it through to the final.
Jostling junior games in store
The semi-finals of the junior championship are also down for decision this week, with two sides who contested the intermediate final inside the last three years looking to make it back out of the bottom tier of Mayo football. Kiltimagh will face the Neale in Claremorris on Saturday at 5pm. The Neale had the comeback of the championship last weekend, they were 0-10 to 0-1 down at half time against Ballina B only to come back and outscore the north Mayo men by 3-4 to 0-2 in the second period to seal a famous win. Kiltimagh will be a sterner test and will probably be a bridge too far for them. Parke came out of one of the strangest games of football you’ll ever see, neither they nor Islandeady were able to score until injury time in the first half, and when Peter Collins did point for Islandeady it was greeted with the loudest cheer of the day from both sets of supporters. But Parke did manage to put their scoreless first half behind them to come out in the second half and seal a deserved win thanks mainly to substitute Dwyane Flynn. On Saturday they know that a similar first half performance against Ardnaree in Charlestown would be good enough.