The group stages of the Mayo senior and intermediate championships came to an end on Sunday evening with some drama in group two and Ballinrobe will feel the hardest done by in the senior grade. Norman O'Brien's charges hit the ground running on the last weekend in May in round one, by going to Crossmolina and beating the Deel Rovers by 2-13 to 0-11. That result seemed to mark a transition with Ballinrobe on an upward curve and Crossmolina on the way down. But roll on to the second last weekend in July and it's the men from Crossmolina who are in the last eight, while Ballinrobe will have to go away and lick their wounds for another year.
Crossmolina picked themselves up from that defeat to see off Kiltane in the last round before heading to Josie Munnelly Park to take on the beaten finalists of the last two years Castlebar Mitchels. Castlebar went into the game as favorites with two wins from two and they knew if they beat Crossmolina it would more than likely send the Deel side men packing from the championship and give themselves another boost ahead of the knock out rounds. But Pat Holmes's side weren't able to overcome Michael Moyles men, with Crossmolina coming out 1-13 to 1-10 winners with former Mayo u21 player Cathal Carlon grabbing the goal for Crossmolina. Crossmolina's win combined with Ballinrobe's 3-5 to 2-8 draw with Kiltane sent the Moyle's side through. The outcome of the group was so tight, that Ballinrobe who were leading as deep as two minutes into injury time would have gone though on the scoring difference if they had held on to the win, while if Kiltane had managed to win rather the game with Ballinrobe, it would be the south Mayo side in the relegation play-off not them, on the head-to-head rule.
In group one, the sides who would be in action in the last eight was known before this weekend, with Knockmore and Garrymore securing their places in the previous round. All that was left for decision when both sides met on Saturday evening was who would top the group and who would come second. Knockmore took the honor of group toppers thanks to a comfortable 0-15 to 0-6 win on Saturday evening. The real action in this group was in Glencorrib on Sunday afternoon, where the hosts welcomed Aghamore to the border outpost. The permutations were straight forward whoever won avoided the relegation play-offs and even a draw would do Aghamore on scoring difference. By half time it looked like the the outcome was already well decided with Shrule-Glencorrib leading by 0-9 to 0-3. Eoin Ronaldson, Mark Ronaldson and David Geraghty were all to the fore for the south Mayo men in attack, while Kieran Conroy was in charge of midfield for them. The second half turned out to be all together tighter affair with Aghamore coming out fighting. Full back Colm Caulfields's goal six minutes into the second half was the big score of the half. Brendan Jordan drove in a sideline ball, which was collected by Alan Freeman close in. His shot for goal came back off the bar to Caulfield who drove it to the net. Aghamore pushed and pushed on but could never get closer than three points to Shrule. In injury time Brendan Jordan had a glorious chance to bust the net but Kevin Canavan saved well for his side. Shrule-Glencorrib were leading by four points at that stage and Aghamore would have needed another point to level it up still. It was a case of too little to late for the east Mayo men as the hosts held on for the win.
Much like group two, all that was up for grabs in group three at the top of the table was which of Claremorris or Ballintubber would top the group. When all was said and done in Claremorris on Sunday, it was the back-to-back county champions who went through top of the table thanks to a 1-14 to 0-5 win. It was supposed to be a battle for survival at the bottom of the table in the other game. But there was no battle at all. Davitts steamrolled Breaffy in Ballindine by 1-15 to 0-5. From the get go it was Davitts all the way, with Pete Warren's side going in at the break leading by 1-11 to 0-3. Fergal McGrath grabbed the goal, but Davitts were on top in every sector. Colm Boyle lead from the back and Michael Conroy was given a roving roll and he was in top class form covering every blade of grass. Josh Roynane was also in impressive form in the number 11 shirt as Breaffy could not come up with the answers to the questions Davitts posed them over the 60 minutes.
In group four, Ballaghderreen were the top team going into the final round of games and looked odds on to top the group. Their last game on against Ballina Stephenites on paper looked a tricky encounter in James Stephens Park. Ballina had a lot to prove after loosing to Tourmakeady in the big surprise of the championship in the pervious round. Ballina did put it up to Ballagh' on Saturday night and ran them to four points but it wasn't enough as that loss to Tourmakeady came back to haunt them and send them into the relegation play-off. The other game in the group say an ever improving Westport side cut loose against Tourmakeady in a 0-17 to 0-4 in Westport. Damien Keane and Lewis Cawley were in fine form in the full forward line, with Stephen Broderick adding some physicality further out the field, while Lee Keegan commanded the middle of the park for long periods.
Group winners: Knockmore, Crossmolina, Ballintubber, Ballaghderreen
Runners up: Garrymore, Castlebar Mitchels, Claremorris, Westport
Aghamore, Kiltane, Breaffy, Ballina Stephenites