For three of the four groups in this year’s Royal Theatre Mayo senior football championship it is D-day this weekend. With every group still in the melting pot it promises to be an exciting weekend of action across the county.
In section one the action gets under way on Sunday at 5pm, with Ballintubber hosting Claremorris and Garrymore making the long trip north to Crossmolina to face the Deel Rovers. James Horan’s west Mayo side top the section right now, with three points from their two games after a win over Garrymore and a draw with Crossmolina. Horan’s side will be the favourites to pick up the point and first place in the table, so the real battle will be taking place close to the Deel River. Both Crossmolina and Garrymore are locked together on two points apiece. Crossmolina have drawn both their previous games with Ballintubber and Claremorris, while Garrymore picked up their two points thanks to a win over fellow south Mayo side Claremorris. It is a winner takes all meeting and Crossmolina manager John Maughan is under no illusions as to the task his side face. “We’re in a precarious position, we know that it’s win or bust for us. We’ve got two draws so far and we were as lucky as black cats to get out of the Claremorris game with a draw, being seven points down with a few minutes to go. But we’ve built from there, it’s still there for us, beat Garrymore and we’re through. Having a home game is a help but no one here is taking anything for granted, it’s going to be tough and exciting but that’s the last day of the championship.”
Mitchels in pole position
In section two Castlebar Mitchels are the side to beat. Wins over Shrule Glencorrib and Bohola Moy Davitts have Peter Ford’s side sitting pretty at the top of the table. On Saturday evening Aghamore will be their hosts, the east Mayo men themselves are still in contention for a place in the last eight. However it is hard to see them being able to stop Castlebar from taking the points. Even if they do beat the Mitchels, the +21 point scoring difference that Castlebar have in the bank is a huge advantage if it has to come into play, depending on the result in the other game. In the other contest in this section, Moy Davitts will entertain Shrule Glencorrib on Saturday evening. Kenneth Mortimer’s side have won one and lost one, beating Aghamore by 13 points in the last round and losing out to the Mitchels by three on the opening day. It is hard to look past Shrule Glencorrib taking the points and place in the last eight home with them, thus condemning their hosts to a relegation play off.
Things could get messy in section three
It will be the fourth round of games in section three of the senior championship with another round of games still to go after this weekend. Westport will bring their interest in the group stage to a close with their fourth and final game at home to defending champions Charlestown. In the five team group, both Charlestown and Westport are top of the table with four points each, but things could get really messy before this group is sorted out, a fact that Westport manager Martin Connolly knows only too well. “It’s last chance saloon for us,” he said. “We have to go out and get a win or we’re done. We’ve played three games, won two and lost the other one by a point. In another group that would be enough to go through, but we could still even win at the weekend and still not go through.
“But we have to go out there and do what we know how to do and get the result. Charlestown are the county champions, so you know it’s not going to be easy but we’ve got to give it our all. It was a costly slip up late on against Breaffy, it was a tough day for playing football and they got through at the end, not us.”
The action in section three is down for throw-in at 2.30pm on Sunday. In the other game in the group Breaffy will be making the long trip north to Kiltane knowing that they have to deliver a win to keep their destiny in their own hands. The north Mayo men have lost their two games in the championship to date and are fighting to avoid relegation and won’t go down easily at home. When the sides met in the league earlier this year it was the Quilting men who came out on top, and Breaffy will be without the services of Ronan Conway and Seamus O’Shea for the clash, which will be big losses.
Ballinrobe look to turn good start in to qualification
In section four, it would have been a brave man who would have predicted that Ballaghaderreen would be out of contention and looking to be facing into a battle to avoid relegation. It has been some fall from being champions in 2008, but that is exactly where they find themselves. Ballinrobe have been the surprise package of the championship. It looked to be a case of same old story for Norman O’Brien’s side when the draw for the group was made, for what must seem like forever they were drawn in the group of death with three big hitters. However they’ve come out fighting and are currently top the table. They beat Ballaghaderreen out the gate in their first game and followed that up with a draw against last year’s beaten finalists Knockmore. This weekend they have got Ballina Stephenites visiting Flanagan Park. The Stephenites were well beaten by Knockmore in their opening game and beat Ballaghaderreen in the last round. So it is winner takes all on Saturday evening at 7pm and it is probably the only place to be for football fans. Knockmore are the other side in the shake up for a last eight spot and they will make the trip to east Mayo to take on Ballaghaderreen. When the draw was made it looked as if this could be the vital game in deciding who would come out on top, but with Ballaghaderreen out of contention you can’t look any further than a Knockmore win.