I thought it impossible to see anything more bizarre than having to overtake an NYPD car on my way to MacHale Park last Sunday but just before the start of the Ballintubber/Knockmore county quarter final something else surpassed that. While I was watching the Ballintubber warm up to see if I could spot Cillian O’Connor ( to see if he was togged ) I noticed a commotion in the middle of the field with all medical personnel running towards the place where Knockmore just had their team picture taken.
Aidan Kilcoyne lay strewn in agony after badly damaging his knee after jumping over the bench where they had just had their team picture taken. I have never come across anything like it and may I wish him a speedy recovery as he is a proud Knockmore man and he will be sorely missed by his team next Sunday.
The quarter finals threw up some serious surprises especially on Sunday. What would I know about football? Predicting three out of four results incorrectly. Castlebar were by far the most impressive team of the weekend easily disposing of the threat of Ballina. They are rightfully the red hot favourites to lift the Paddy Moclair cup and are priced at best odds of 4/9. They have such a strong squad and could afford to rest players like Alan Feeney and Tom Cunniffe. Barry Moran hasn’t played much football in the green and red this summer and you can see he’s fresh. He was very impressive scoring five points from play along with Neil Douglas who fired 1-3 in another fine personal display. They have a well balanced team who know where the goal posts are and I find it very hard to see anyone stopping them.
Charlestown had a great seven point victory over Garrymore, without been massively impressive they were very steady and had a nice total tally of 2-17. It was great to see Martin Mulvaney took time away from his dancing lessons to practice his shooting and he finished the game with an impressive 1-5 from play. Charlestown still rely heavily on the experience of Aiden Higgins and their decision to fly Tom Parsons home for games has proven to be a correct one. However their inability to kill teams off is quite worrying, they had this game out of sight at early enough stage but still let Garrymore come back at them to make it a nervy last 15 minutes for the Sarsfields supporters.
Anyone with football accumulators were shell shocked by the outcome of both games on Sunday. Breaffy easily disposed of county champions Ballaghadeereen and despite the best efforts of Andy Moran and David Drake, Breaffy and particularly the two O’Sheas were far too powerful for Ballagh’. I have never seen James Kilcullen and Barry Kelly been dominated like that before in midfield. Breaffy were tight at the back, powerful at midfield and up front Tommy O’Reilly, Liam Irwin and Alan Durcan were very lively and caused major problems for the Ballagh’ defence. Ballagh’ were fantastic county champions and will need time off to mount another assault next year.
After one shock on Sunday I didn’t think it possible for a second to occur especially after Aidan Kilcoyne’s bizarre injury before Knockmore’s game against Ballintubber. Kilcoyne’s late replacement- Alan Loftus helped himself to two excellent first half scores and with Shane McHale tying up Alan Dillon the signs looked ominous for Ballintubber. The unlikely star of this show was 36-year-old Declan Sweeney who scored three top drawer scores and ran Cathal Hallinan ragged in the Ballintubber defence. Sweeney made his debut for Knockmore way back in 1992 and if anyone deserves another Moclair Cup it is him.
Onto the semi’s, Charlestown will have their work cut out to try to figure out how to overcome Breaffy and the power of the O’Shea brothers at midfield. I wonder could they borrow Stephen Cluxton for an hour on Sunday. On top of that the two McLoughlin’s tragically lost their Uncle Eugene last week while Mark and David Caffrey have had to deal with losing their own mother Kathleen only last Tuesday after a long battle with illness. They may not even have it in themselves to tog for the club on Sunday. Charlestown will need to find something out of the ordinary to beat Breaffy but I’m not sure if it will happen for them. Castlebar will know this is their time, the nearly men of the last seven or eight years, they will never get a better chance to win the Moclair cup. Pat Holmes will want this game wrapped up early. As clubs go they are the Dublin of the club scene in Mayo, A panel most clubs could only imagine to have at their disposal. Breaffy and Castlebar to meet in the county final, I wonder who Tom Reilly will be up for?