The defending champions Ballintubber laid down a marker for the rest of the sides in the county that they will not be giving up their championship easy this year when they blitzed their way through what looked like a potentially tricky opening round encounter against local rivals Breaffy with a 1-14 to 0-3 win. Breaffy were always going to be up against it facing the defending champions on their own patch in the opening round, but having to go into the game without both Seamus and Aidan O'Shea it was going to need a huge effort from them if they were going to take anything from the game.
But Ballintubber weren't in a mood to let Breaffy away with anything, the first thirty minutes saw Peter Ford's side hold Breaffy scoreless in the baking heat of Prendergast Memorial Park in Clogher. Both Padraic and Cillian O'Connor chipped in with two points each, while Alan Dillon and Damien McGing both got in on the act with a point each to give their side a 0-6 to 0-0 lead.
Ballintubber were totally dominant throughout and were the first to every ball and played with a lot more physicality and purpose than their opponents, with Jason Gibbons and Danny Geraghty putting in a big shift in the middle of the park.
Ballintubber had the lead stretched out to eight points two minutes into the second half with Cillian O'Connor and Alan Plunkett on target. Breaffy finally got off the mark when Tommy Reilly put over a free from close range. Reilly was one of four different Breaffy players who took on free taking duties over the course of the hour, with Robbie Hennelly, Marty McNicholas and Alan Durcan all off target during the game. Breaffy did manage to get their second point pretty shortly after when Kevin Scahill up field from his duties of tracking Alan Dillon got on a loose ball. Ballintubber weren't in the mood to let their opponents back into the game. Cillian O'Connor hit two quick fire points.
Whatever lingering doubt that could possibly be left was extinguished with 14 minutes to go, when Alan Plunkett was on the end of a powerful Ballintubber drive up the field and put the ball into the net from close in. Ballintubber rounded out the victory with scores from McGing (twice ), Plunkett and Cillian O'Connor. Ballintubber made it look easy at stages on Sunday and Breaffy never got going at all, the champions kept their foot down right until the final whistle, long after the outcome of the game had been decided.
The other game in that group took place in Ballindine where last years intermediate champions Davitts welcomed their own neighbours Claremorris. It was the visitors who when home with the points after a 1-10 to 0-9 win on the borderline. The Claremorris goal came from James Shaughnessy early in the first half. Claremorris went in leading by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break, but could have been further in front if they hadn't kicked a number of wides. The Davitts challenge wasn't helped by loosing veteran defender Alan Roache to injury early in the first half. Davitts did come strong in the second half, outscoring their guests by 0-5 to 0-3 in the final 30 minutes and closed the gap down to only two points at one stage near the finish, but it wasn't enough as Claremorris held on to claim the points.
Knockmore battle back to steal it at the death
In section one, both Knockmore and Garrymore were the winners this weekend. Garrymore kicked things off on Saturday evening with a low scoring 1-6 to 1-4 win over Aghamore in Garrymore. Garrymore were leading by 1-4 to 0-2 at the break and the fact that they were only able to add on two more points in the second half is something that Jack Grimes will be hoping his side can improve on in their next outing. It was actually Aghamore who took the lead at the start of the game with a pointed free from Darren Duffy after six minutes, but from there on in it was Garrymore who took control in the half. Shane Nally kicked a point from play, then Jimmy Killeen pointed brace of frees. One from close to the sideline and the other from just outside the 45m line. Sean Golden chipped in with a point to put Garrymore 0-4 to 0-1 into the lead.
The large home crowd were given even more reason to cheer with eight minutes left in the half when Garrymore plundered their goal. Corner back Martin Maloney charged up the field and found himself 14 yards out from the Aghamore goal with the ball in his hand. At the last moment it looked like the ball had just been knocked from his possession, but he was able to connect with the ball as it dropped and loft it past Niall Walsh into the back of the net. Aghamore did cut the cap back to five points just before the break with a long range free from Alan Freeman. Just after the turn around the visitors were given a foothold back in the game when Kenny Feeney was fouled in the penalty area and referee Declan Corcoran awarded a penalty. Up stepped Alan Freeman who drove the ball to the back of the net despite the best efforts of Morven Connolly in the Garrymore goal. It was a nervous display form both sides after that goal, with numerous attacking moves breaking down for both sides Sean Golden and Martin Maloney kicked Garrymore's last two points with Freeman landing the last two Aghamore scores of the game.
The other game in the group played out on the borderline saw Knockmore battle back from what was looking like a surprise defeat to Shrule-Glenncorrib in south Mayo to steal a win. In a high scoring game, the visitors lead by 1-8 to 0-10 at the break with Declan Sweeney scoring the goal, with Aidan Kilcoyne in fine form for Knockmore. As the game reached the three quarter mark, a goal from Ronan Walsh saw the hosts move into the lead. They went into injury time in the lead, but three injury time points from the north Mayo men put pulled the points out of the fire on a scoreline of 1-18 to 1-16.
Ballinrobe make a statement of intent
In section two it's Ballinrobe who are sitting pretty at the top of the table after the first round of games. The south Mayo men made the trip to Crossmolina and went home with the points thanks to a comprehensive eight point win over the Deel Rovers. Ballinrobe were always in control of this contest going in leading by 1-8 to 0-7 at half time, the Ballinrobe goal coming from Alan Murphy who scored 1-6 for Ballinrobe over the hour.. In the second period Ballinrobe turned on the style and were 2-9 to 0-8 in the lead after only 34 minutes, with Ballinrobe's second goal coming from James Quinn. With five minutes left on the clock Ballinrobe were nine points clear and the points were heading back home to south Mayo with Norman O'Brien's side.
Next up for Ballinrobe is Pat Holmes Castlebar Mitchels who themselves went away from home and came back with the points. Mitchels went up to Kiltane for what promised to be a tough examination and came home victors by five points on a scoreline of 1-13 to 1-8. Castlebar went in leading at the break by 1-10 to 1-3 with with Ronan O'Boyle finding the back of the net for Castlebar and Mikey Sweeney slotting home a penalty for the hosts. The second half saw a big shift in the play with Kiltane the ones doing the scoring and with 15 minutes left they had cut the gap to only three points. But Castlebar, dug in and pulled away in the closing stages to bring home the two points.
Ballagh' lay down a marker
In section four, Ballaghderren are out in front at the top of the group thanks to a comprehensive ten point win over Tourmakeady in the Gaeltacht on Sunday evening. Andy Moran who was a doubt in the build up to the game was named amongst the subs, but the Mayo captain along with Barry Regan who was also wearing a subs jersey were drafted into the starting 15 before the throw in.
Ballaghaderreen were simply a different class from their opponents, and were leading by 1-6 to 0-0 after a quarter of an hour with Andy Moran finding the back of the net from close range and generally leading the Tourmakeady defense on a merry dance. At the break Ballaghderreen were in front by 1-11 to 1-3 with the Tourmakeady goal coming after a long free in was misjudged by the Ballaghderreen goal keeper as it dropped short of the target and slipped through his hands into the back of the net. The second half played out at a canter as the east Mayo side took their foot off the gas a little and Tourmakeady battled right until the end, showing their never say die spirit.
The other game in the section ended in a 0-8 to 0-8 draw between Anthony McGarry's Ballina and Tomás Tierney's up and coming Westport side in Ballina. In a nip and tuck affair neither side could build up a a substantial lead and Westport leveled the game at the death to share the points