It has been a remarkable few years for Ballintubber, escaping with the intermediate title by the skin of their teeth in 2007 and going on to put together back to back senior titles in 2010 and 2011. This year, they are looking to make it three senior titles in a row. On Sunday in McHale Park, Crossmolina Deel Rovers will become the latest side to try to knock Peter Ford’s men off their lofty perch.
Ballintubber’s chances of getting to this years final to make it three in a row got a bit more difficult, with Cillian O’Connor being forced out of their league game against Ballina Stephenites last Sunday with what was reported as a dislocated shoulder. O’Connor who was last year’s Young Footballer of the Year an award he was nominated for again for 2012 this week, will be a massive loss to the Ballintubber attack.
Ballintubber though have lots of forward options with the likes of Padraic O’Connor, Alan Plunkett, and Damien McGing all able to step up to the mark, while Alan Dillon will be pulling the strings from the centre half forward spot. In the middle of the park, Danny Geraghty and Jason Gibbons will be key players for the west Mayo men in their drive for more success.
As for Crossmolina Deel Rovers, Michael Moyles has got over a tough introduction to life in the championship with his home club after a heavy defeat to Ballinrobe in round one. They put together wins over Kiltane and Castlebar Mitchels to make it into the last eight.
Moyles will be looking for the likes of the experienced Ciaran McDonald, Brian Benson, and Peadar Gardiner to be the key men in his side. Cathal Carolan, who has had such an impressive year, was drafted into the Mayo squad mid season, and will also be looking to get scores on the board. Even with the loss of O’Connor, Ballintubber will still go in as favourites, and rightly so, going on the last two years’ performances in the championship. But Crossmolina will be up for this one. The action gets under way in McHale Park at 1.30pm on Sunday.
Ballagh and Knockmore to be nail biter
If the absence of one of Mayo’s marquee forwards will cast a shadow on the first game in Mayo GAA HQ on Sunday, the absence of Andy Moran from the second game will be an even tougher one for his club to take as they look to get back to the county final. Ballaghaderreen already have had to do without Moran for the quarter final but that did not stop them from hammering Garrymore in McHale Park. Barry Regan was the man who stepped up that day and hit 1-8 of his sides total of 2-18 in as impressive a display of club football you will have seen this year.
On Sunday Knockmore will be trying to stop Ballagh making the final. Ray Dempsey’s men are coming into this game off the back of a defeat in the league last weekend, but it is all about championship for the Knockmore men, that is where they earn their crust. Their quarter-final win over Claremorris was the least impressive of any of the final four, but Knockmore have had a long time to put that out of their minds and get ready for Sunday.
Kevin McLoughlin, who was nominated for an All Star this week, will be Knockmore’s main go to man while Aidan Kilcoyne will be looking to show he still has what it takes in attack. Ballagh should have what it takes to get over the line, but Knockmore will not make it easy and it if it is a tight affair, they will fancy their chances of getting the win. The game throws in at 3pm in McHale Park.
Battle to avoid the drop
The first of the relegation play-offs for the senior championship will take place on Sunday. The last time that Ballina Stephenites and Breaffy met in the championship was in a quarter-final reply last season. This year things have gone quite a bit backwards for both sides, finishing bottom of their groups. Breaffy got a welcome win over Knockmore in the league last Sunday and will be boosted by having the fully fit O’Shea brothers available to them for the first time this season, and will be hoping they can spur them on. Ballina for their part will be looking to the likes of Ger Cafferkey, Evan Regan, and Ronan McGarrity to lead them in this battle. Neither side will be willing to give an inch in this battle which throws in on Sunday at 12 noon in Ballyhaunis.
Burrishoole await replay outcome
Colm McManamon will be hoping that this year will finally be the year that his Burrishoole side can make the step back up to the big time. For the third year in a row, he guided Burrishoole to the intermediate final last weekend. His side were by far the better side all afternoon against Parke in McHale Park last Sunday and were more than deserving winners on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-7, with Jason Doherty scoring 1-5 for his side.
Tomorrow evening at 5pm in Claremorris, Kilmaine and Charlestown will have to do it all over again. With time almost up, Kilmaine’s Alan Burke clawed the ball to the back of the Charlestown net to secure a deserved draw against the east Mayo men in McHale Park last Sunday. Charlestown will look back and rue a number of bad wides and an early injury to Richie Haran which blunted their attack a bit. But Kilmaine kept in there fighting and deserved their second chance.