The first of the major adult county titles will be given out on Saturday when Tooreen host Ballyhaunis in the Mayo Senior Hurling Championship final, with the TJ Tyrell Cup at stake. The men in red and black have been the premier force in Mayo hurling for the last decade, picking up their fifth title in seven years last year with a 0-15 to 2-7 win over their opponents. The last time Tooreen won the county title was back in 2003 and since then they have been on the coat tails of their neighbours.
Both of the sides go into Sunday’s final after comfortable victories in their respective finals. Torreen saw off Westport by nine points with ease while Ballyhaunis saw off the James Stephens Ballina in their final four game.
Ballyhaunis will go into the game as favourites with the likes of Keith and Pierce Higgins, Hugh McKermitt, Niall Murphy, Derek Walsh, and Christy McCrudden all more than capable of putting in game changing performances for the defending champions. Tooreen themselves have no shortage of quality players with Adrian Freeman, Paul Hunt, Ken Robinson. Martin Devaney, and Enda Kenny top quality players who on their day can swing the game their side’s way. It’s up to Tooreen to put it up to Ballyhaunis on Saturday and make sure they are still well in the game as the final corner approaches. Last year they finished only two points behind Ballyhaunis but that was only after two late goals from Adrian Freeman cut the gap.
Castlebar look to go back to the big time
It may be hard to remember but Castlebar Mitchels were once one of the top dogs of Mayo club football and have picked up 27 county titles, but you have to go back to 1993 to find the last time that they held the Moclair Cup in their possession. It was only a couple of seasons ago they were back down in the intermediate championship but since claiming that title they have been making progress back through the senior ranks. Last Sunday that progress took another step up the ladder when they saw off Shrule-Glencorrib in their quarter final replay. Mitchels looked unstoppable in the early stages of the game, but took their foot off the gas and could have lost a game they really should have won by at least 10 points. Now on Sunday they have the chance to make it back to the county final against Knockmore. Standing in their way is a Charlestown side who have been marked out as one of the favourites for the title from the off, and have been quietly going about their business, while most of the eyes were on other sides. Charlestown have been in the last two county finals and really should have won at least one of them, and going on from their demolition of Kiltaine in the quarter final they will go in as deserving favourites on Sunday. Castlebar won’t be allowed to rack up the wide count they did against Shrule-Glencorrib. Charlestown are a physical, fast, and hungry team with their eyes firmly set on the prize of a place in the final. Castlebar will be hungry too, and after many years of underage success, it’s about time the county town side got back to the top of the tree at adult grades.
Belmullet keep on running
It’s hard to know is it a blessing or a curse for Belmullet having to play so many games in succession. Three games against Davitts, followed by last weekend’s quarter final against Cill Chomain where they couldn’t be separated, means it’s a fifth game in five weeks for the men in red from north Mayo. It would be expected that they will hit the wall soon, but they probably will have enough for one more win in them. Waiting for the victors in the semi-final is Tourmakeady with Westport all ready through to the final resting up for whoever they finally face.