Big games will bring out the best over the weekend

Ballaghaderreen v Garrymore

While the injury to Andy Moran has casted a cloud over Mayo’s chances ahead of the All Ireland semi-final, it will have an equally, if not more serious, effect on Ballaghderreen’s chances in this year’s Mayo senior championship. After storming through their group with three wins from three the 2008 champions were looking good to have a serious crack at picking up this year’s Moclair Cup. A lot is going to rest now on the shoulders of the likes of Barry Regan, Andy Hanley and David and James Kilcullen to drive them on.

Garrymore came through a tough group thanks to wins over Aghamore and Shrule-Glenncorrib to book their last eight spot. The south Mayo men are a well organised unit and with James Kilcullen and Enda Varley in their attack, they have forwards who know where the target it is. Both sides will fancy their chances of making the last four, there probably won’t be much in it at the final whistle, but the east Mayo men will probably still just shade it.

Verdict: Ballaghaderreen

Knockmore v Claremorris

The second game on Saturday evening in McHale Park, is one of the hardest games of the weekend to call. Claremorris booked their place in the last eight with a win over local rivals and then a comfortable win over Breaffy. But when they came up against the defending champions Ballintubber in the last group game, they were easily beaten. Knockmore are the old dogs for the long road and despite being given a serious scare by Shrule-Glenncorrib on the first day they held on for a vital win, before running over both Aghamore and Garrymore to keep a 100 per cent record in the group stages. Up front Aidan Kilcoyne is still their main go to man for scoring, while Kevin McLoughlin, John Brogan and Declan Sweeney offer plenty of quality elsewhere on the field. Claremorris won’t fear the north Mayo men and if they keep it tight, they’ll look to the likes of James Shaughnessy, Liam Feeley and Brian Gallagher to drive them on. Verdict: Knockmore

Crossmolina Deel Rovers v Westport

When the Deel Rovers made the trip south to Castlebar for their final group game, the odds were stacked against them making the last eight. Defeat in their opening game to Kiltaine left them with it all to do and Mitchels already had two wins under their belt. But Crossmolina showed there is plenty of fight still left in them with a 1-13 to 1-10 win. They still had to rely on Ballinrobe slipping up which did happen, and Crossmolina not only qualified but topped the group.

Westport, on the other hand, are one of the coming teams in the county, and they had to work hard to get through their group with a win over Tourmakeady combined with a draw against Ballina enough for them to make it through to the last eight. The loss of Louis Cawley through injury is going to be a blow to Westport’s chances and the pressure will fall on Damien Keane and Stephen Broderick to kick the scores on Sunday. They also have Lee Keegan and Kevin Keane in top class form and high on confidence from their exploits with Mayo. Crossmolina will be looking to the old reliables like Ciaran McDonald and Brian Benson to spearhead their attack, while Cathal Carlon could also have a big say in this game for the Deel Rovers. Verdict: Westport

Ballintubber v Castlebar Mitchels

The big one of the weekend, for the last two years these local rivals have squared off in the final, this time it’s the last eight. Castlebar’s failure to beat Crossmolina and claim top spot in their group saw them fall into the second seeds bowl and put them in this position. Ballintubber will rightly go into the game as favourites and if there was any doubt about them having the hunger to go for three in a row, they fairly blew that notion out of the way in the group stages. Still Castlebar Mitchels will fancy their chances of turfing Ballintubber out of the competition on Sunday evening. If they are going to do that, everything is going to have to click just right for Pat Holmes’ side. Barry Moran has continued where he left off last year for Castlebar and he will need to dominate the middle third if his side are going to see off the ‘Tubber. The Mitchels defence will have to be at 100 per cent if they are going to deny the likes of Alan Dillon, Cillian O’Connor, Alan Plunkett and Padraig O’Connor the limited amount of space they need to cause serious damage on the scoreboard. It’s going to be a battle, but the champions should have enough. Verdict: Ballintubber


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