Ballagh’ climb back to the top of the table

This year’s club action kicked off with a couple of big questions looking to be answered, could Ballintubber be the first team since the legendary Garrymore team to do three in a row in the senior championship. And would Charlestown be able to bounce straight back up from the intermediate championship after their shock fall from grace the previous year.

Well one was able to answer the question in the positive and the other came pretty damn close. For Ballintubber third time lucky it wasn’t to be as Ballaghaderreen managed to bring the Moclair Cup back home with them following an impressive display in the county final. For Ballintubber, they had to go into the final without the injured Cillian O’Connor and lost Alan Dillon midway through the second half, removing their main attacking threats. But Ballagh themselves had to overcome their self enforced absence with Andy Moran missing since early August. But the likes of Keith Rodgers, James and David Kilcullen, Steven and David Drake and Andy Hanley all stood up and were counted when they needed to be. Their dream of making it to the All Ireland semi-final came acropper a few weeks ago when St Brigid’s beat them in the Connacht final, but all in all it was a very good year for the boys from Ballagh’.

As if last year’s relegation of Charlestown didn’t serve enough warning that any side could find themselves in relegation trouble this year ,the fact that the mighty Ballina Stephenites had to go to the final game to save their senior status will be fair warning to all next year. Ballina found themselves bottom of a group including Westport, Tourmakeady and Ballaghaderreen and then Breaffy ran through them in the relegation semi-final before the finally managed to overcome Kiltane in the relegation final. While Ballina breathed a sigh of relief at managing to stay up, it brought an end to a very proud run from the Bangor men of being a senior club dating back to the 70s.

In the intermediate championship all eyes were on Charlestown and they duly delivered by making it back up to senior after only one year down in the middle tier. They did have their scares on the way with Kilmaine taking them to a replay in the semi-final. In the final it was a case of third time unlucky for Burrishoole, who must be thinking what can they do to get back to the senior ranks in Mayo. For the third year in a row, they came up just short in the final, next year they hope will be their year.

As for the side who won the intermediate title in 2011, Davitts they held their own in the senior ranks, but they also have the memory of trip to Croke Park to remember form 2012 to keep with them. Pete Warren’s men made it all the way to the All Ireland intermediate final in the spring, but they came up just short against Milltown Castlemine, who were better able to handle the wide open spaces of Croke Park, but it was a run that no one in Irishtown or Ballindine will ever forget in a hurry.

As for the junior grade, anyone who was in McHale Park on the last Saturday in October, will not be forgetting the drama that unfolded in front of their eyes. The Neale and Ardnree were going at it again in the replay of the junior final. Ardnaree were down to 14 men and holding on to a three point lead in injury time when Séan Cosgrove let fly with a free from near the 21 in a last gasp effort to save the game. The ball flew past the outstretched arm of every Ardnaree man on the line and sent the game to extra time, where Cosgrove and his team kicked on to victory from there.

The never ending story of the league in Mayo finally came to an end in early December when Castlebar Mitchels claimed the division 1A crown with a win over Ballina Stephenites who, despite their problems in the championship, were right in the league race until the final day. It was one of the tightest league races for many years, with even the side who finished third eventually only assured of their guaranteed survival after the end of the second last game. In the end, Westport went down along with Shrule to the division 1B. Castlebar picked up the u21 title following a replay win over local rivals Ballintubber, while Ballyhaunis were the best of the best again on the hurling scene in the county winning the senior championship once again.


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