At the start of the season predicting that Aghamore would make the final of the intermediate championship wouldn’t have raised too many eyebrows. And the east Mayo men duly delivered on that last weekend when they saw off Belmullet by seven points in Castlebar. Their opponents this Sunday though are the surprise package. Kilmaine were drawn in the five team group of death at the start of the year, pitting them against Tourmakeady, Davitts, Hollymount and Kiltimagh. A group that was really any two from five, with Kilmaine being the last of that five in early expectations. But Kilmaine didn’t care what other people thought and Norman O’Brien and David O’Loughlin went about their work. They were the last team in action in the group and managed to see off Hollymount by three points away from home, they followed that up with a draw at home to Tourmakeady. With two rounds of games to go it was make or break time and Kilmaine made a 2-7 to 0-7 win over Kiltimagh in July set up a final day showdown with Davitts for a spot in the last eight. Davitts just didn’t have enough and Kilmaine battled through for a two-point win on a score of 0-8 to 0-6. Kilcommon were dispatched with ease in the quarter final by 3-5 to 0-8 setting up last weekend’s clash with Westport.
We’re building for the future
A couple of days before his side’s biggest game in a few years Kilmaine manager Norman O’Brien was in a very relaxed mood when he spoke to the Mayo Advertiser. “Were looking at building for the future all the time, we’re developing a new team at the minute and it’s great to get to the final, but Aghamore are a good side and are like a senior side playing in the intermediate championship.”
The south Mayo side’s manger, while not downplaying his sides chances at the weekend, was full of praise for Aghamore as club as well a team. “You have to hold your hand up to Aghamore, there a fantastic club who are being run extremely well from the ground up. They have a great underage set up and must have one of the highest number of referees in any club in the county. If any club wants to see how to do things they’re the perfect example to look at.”
While Aghamore have been celebrating a good amount of success at underage level, Kilmaine this year too have some silverware already on the sideboard for the winter. “The U21 lads did fantastically well to win the C championship, it was a great win for the club and has given the lads a taste of what its like to win county titles and hopefully they’ll carry that through. But you have to look at Aghamore, they’ve been winning A titles at different graded for the past while we’re only building up for the future again.”
Last weekend’s semi-final win over a fancied Westport side in terrible conditions has sent the south Mayo men hurtling into a replay of the 1992 final. “The game against Westport was a very tough bruising encounter and we’re delighted to have got through it. We could have done with a bit more than a week to get ready for the final, but that’s the way it falls. The lads are all ready and primed for the game but they know it will be tough.” The talk turns to the 1992 junior final where O’Brien played in goal for the side he now manages and he is hoping that there will be a similar outcome. “Well that was a long time ago now, 16 years. Times have changed for both sides, but if the result is the same again I won’t mind.”
Eastern promises of glory
Aghamore are coming, well they have been coming for the past few years now and this Sunday marks their chance to make the leap up into the senior ranks. As was mentioned earlier on they were one of the early season favourites to make the break, so no one is too surprised that they are there on the final day. Michael Hunt’s side have been in stellar form all season, they have only lost once this season going down to Swinford by a goal in early August. They breezed through the championship seeing off Belmullet, Bonniconlon and Kilmeena in the group stages scoring 9-32 in three games. The quarter final saw them easily see off another side who had ambitions on going all the way this year: Ballyhaunis with ease. Last week’s semi-final display against a tough Belmullet side was another impressive display as they went toe to toe with a gutsy Belmullet side before their class shone through at the end.
Come Sunday evening for the first time in the last couple of years there won’t be a side from west Mayo bringing the Sweeny Cup home for the winter, will it go east or will it go south? That will be decided on Sunday in McHale Park at 3.30pm. Aghamore will go in as favourites and should have just enough to see it out over the 60 minutes.