It is a busy weekend of action for both the Mayo senior and junior champions, with Ballintubber fresh from winning their first senior county title looking to book their place in the Connacht final on Sunday against Galway champions Killererin in Tuam Stadium at 2.30pm. When James Horan’s men are getting ready for throw in on Sunday, Frank McHale’s Parke side will be just coming up to half time in their Connacht Junior Final against Leitrim side Eslin in McHale Park, hoping that they are on their way to booking a spot in the All Ireland series.
Last weekend McHale’s men made the long trip south to take on the beaten Galway junior finalists Ballinasloe in the semi-final (Ballinasloe were beaten by Salthill Knocknacarra B in the Galway final, but because a B team won the competition they were not allowed to represent Galway in the Connacht championship ). In that game McHale’s men were four point victors winning on a scoreline of 2-11 to 2-7. Mayo minor star Darren Durkan was the man who bagged the two goals for Parke, plundering one in each half. Parke led by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break, with Simon Cloherty hitting five points for them over the 60 minutes against a valiant Galway side who refused to throw in the towel.
Sunday will offer Parke the chance to add a second Connacht junior title to their trophy cabinet having won the title previously in 1998, and would round off an incredible year for the club which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Are Ballintubber up to Tuam test?
While Parke are going for junior glory in their ruby anniversary year Ballintubber have already claimed their first Moclair cup in their centenary year and now have their eyes firmly fixed on becoming the best club side in Connacht before they finally blow out the candles on their 100th birthday cake at the end of the year. James Horan’s men will go into the game against Killererin as underdogs, but that tag will not bother the Clogher based side. Some good news for Ballintubber is that three time All Star and All Ireland winner Padraic Joyce will not be in the Killererin attack having got married last weekend and is currently on honeymoon. The absence of the star Galway forward will give James Horan one less thing to worry about before the game. Ballintubber themselves will have to deal without both captain John Feeney and goalkeeper Noel Gibbons, who went off injured in their county final win over Castlebar Mitchels a fortnight ago. Horan has proved himself a shrewd reader of the game and has set up his team all year to get the most out of the players he has at his disposal, and even with the loss of Feeney and Gibbons he will shuffle the deck to ensure that his side have the best possible chance of progressing. While the Galway champions are shorn of one Joyce, they will be looking to another to lead the line for them in attack. Nicky Joyce scored 1-5 for his side in the Galway final and will need special watching from the Ballintubber rearguard, but Horan has proven throughout the Mayo championship his defence are more than capable of suffocating an opposition’s attack to set the platform for victory. Alan Dillon picked up the man of the match award in the Mayo final, despite an initial shaky start and he will come in for special treatment from the Killererin defence, but this should free up some space for the likes of Cillian O’Connor and Padraig O’Connor in the full forward line, both have the potential to be devastating attacking weapons on their day. While the county final against Mitchels was far from a free flowing game of football, getting into the open country of the Connacht championship could be just the tonic to see the Ballintubber attack ignite and show the quality that everyone in Mayo knows they possess.
Tourmakeady fall just short
It just was not to be for Tourmakeady in McHale Park last Sunday afternoon, when they lost out to Galway city side St James in the Connacht Intermediate semi final. Jack Grimes’ side were in touching distance of St James’s all afternoon trailing by two points at half time (0-7 to 0-5 ) and pulling the game level at one stage in the second half. But the Galway champions were just that bit stronger in the run in and rattled off three points at the end to seal at 0-11 to 0-8 victory.