It'll be hard to find a county final that will have as close of neighbors going toe-toe in it, and have two brothers lining up in opposite colours (Tommy O'Reilly for Breaffy and Eoghan O'Reilly for Castlebar ), but that's what this years Mayo senior football championship final has in store in a fortnight's time. Breaffy booked their very first appearance int he final with a historic win over Charlestown, while Castlebar Mitchels overcame Knockmore, despite being without the services of their man-of-the-match from last weeks quarter-final win over Ballina Stephenites ,Barry Moran and losing Aidan Walsh early in the game through injury. Mitchels beat Breaffy comprehensively in the group stages of the championship back in early summer, but Declan O'Reilly's have inflicted a defeat on Pat Holmes' side this year with a win in the opening league game of the season.
Breaffy booked their place in the final for the first time in the clubs history with a nine point win over Charlestown in MacHale Park at lunch time on Sunday. Declan O'Reilly's men put in a impressive 60 minutes against last years intermediate champions. From goalkeeper Robert Hennelly to captain Marty McNicholas in the number 15 shirt, each and every one of the Breaffy players delivered for on the biggest day in the clubs history so far. Tommy O'Reilly opened the scoring after two minutes after he was played in by Alan Durcan. Charlestown hit back with three points on the bounce over the next five minutes with Gareth O'Donnell, Colm Maye and Richie Haran all hitting minors. Breaffy had the game back on level terms 11 minutes in with Brian Howley and Alan Durcan putting the ball over the black spot. Sandwiched in between those scores, Aidan O'Shea had rampaged his way through the heart of the Charlestown defence only to see his fisted point effort come back off the bar. Mark Caffrey put the east Mayo men back in front a minute later as the both sides worked their way into the game. Alan Durcan leveled the game up with a free just after the quarter of an hour mar after Rory Martyn was hauled down close in on goal. Paul Mulligan hit one of the scores of the game to put Charlestown back in front for the last time in the contest 18 minutes in after he pulled the ball from sky before making space for himself to shoot close in. Liam Irwin punched the ball over the bar to square it all up again just after the 20 minute mark and it was quickly followed up by a free from Durcan. Breaffy rolled off another three points before the break with Seamus O'Shea powering through for one after the ball was flicked down to him by his brother Aidan, Durcan landed one from play and then Aidan O'Shea got in on the act fielding a Charlestown kick-out and driving through to finish, to leave Breaffy leading by 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
Colm Maye cut the gap back to three with the first score of the second half from a free four minutes in, but it was as close as they got as Breaffy upped the performance and drove home to victory. Ten minutes into the second half, they'd extended the lead to 1-12 to 0-6. Gerry Jennings clipped over an effort from a tight angle, Liam Irwin pointed and Durcan both pointed before Aidan O'Shea scored the Breaffy goal. O'Shea fielded the ball and drove through the defence to finish with ease past John Marren in the Charlestown goal. That was game set and match for Breaffy, they quickly added on two points with Irwin and Robbie Hennelly kicking points to put them well out of reach. Charlestown did get score a goal of their own before the end, but it was of little consolation to Denis Kearney's men, who just never got to grips with the blues from midway through the first half.
Castlebar Mitchels booked their place in their third senior final in four years with a solid victory over Knockmore in the second semi-final of the day. Mitchels ability to take goal chances was the main difference on the scoreboard between the sides, while Knockmore weren't able to do likewise, with Castlebar goalkeeper Ciaran Naughton pulling off a couple of very fine saves during the game. Knockmore went into an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead thanks to points from a Kevin McLoughlin free and a close range effort from Alan Loftus, with Neil Douglas kicking a huge point in response for the Mitchels. The next two scores of the game were vital in determining the outcome, even at that early stage. James Durcan was first to finish to the net when he finished off a swift move involving Tom Cunniffe and Richie Feeney nine minutes in. On the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Castlebar plundered their second major of the day. Danny Kirby launched a huge ball into danger area which was fielded by Neil Lydon, he laid the ball onto Douglas who finished from close range. Knockmore hit three points on the bounce in response through McLoughlin, Kieran Langan and James Ruddy. Castlebar responded with four points of their own in a row. The run was started by the very impressive James Durcan from a free then a Neil Lydon effort from distance, with Durcan and Neil Douglas rounding it off, leaving Mitchels leading by 2-5 to 0-6 at the break. Declan Sweeney had two goal chances before the turn-around, the first one forced a fine save from Naughton with Ger McDonnagh pulling off a superb block from the Knockmore man from his second chance.
The second half was a low scoring affair with Castlebar not troubling the scoreboard until 17 minutes into the second half. Knockmore had dominated the opening stages of the half, but they were unable to make it count and kicked a number of wides. Kevin McLoughlin opened the scoring in the second half with a long range free 12 minutes in, but it was Castlebar's first score of the half that killed off any chance Knockmore had of getting back into it. The ball was worked into Danny Kirby and the big Mitchels midfielder made a beeline for the goal and applied a great finish past Andrew Higgins to put his side 3-5 to 0-7 up and wrap up Mitchels spot in the final. Tom King added on two late frees for Mitchels, while Kevin McLoughlin did likewise for his side, as Castlebar ran out 3-7 to 0-9 winners. It's all back to MacHale park in a couple of weeks time for what promises to be a thrilling encounter.