A number of teams will be looking to have booked their spot in the last eight of the Mayo senior football championship this weekend when the curtain comes down on round two.
In group one, the defending champions Castlebar Mitchels, who laid down a marker of their intention to defend their title in round one with a win away to Ballintubber in Clogher, will host Crossmolina Deel Rovers on Sunday afternoon in Josie Munnelly Park. Last weekend Mitchels warmed up for this game with a 2-12 to 3-6 win over an improving Ballina Stephenites and welcomed back Barry Moran to their starting 15 after a while out with injury. With Richie Feeney and Neil Lydon both finding the back of the net and Neil Douglas in good scoring form the Mitchels will be confident of having enough to see off the challenge of the Deel Rovers men. Crossmolina drew their opening game of the championship away to Shrule-Glencorrib and will be hoping the old stagers like Ciaran McDonald, Brian Benson, and Peadar Gardiner will drive them on against the champions.
The second game in this group is the meeting of Ballintubber and Shrule-Glencorrib in Ray Prendergast Memorial Park on Saturday evening. Ballintubber will be chomping at the bit to get back out into championship action after coming up short against Castlebar last time around, and laid down a marker of their intention last weekend with a comprehensive win over Ballaghaderreen in the league. While Shrule-Glencorrib will head to the game in buoyant form after their draw with Crossmolina in round one they will be keenly aware of the task that faces them against a team that has won two of the last four county titles. They have won two of their three league games so far in division 1B and will be looking to Eoin and Mark Ronaldson and Shane Hennelly to lead their charge on Sunday.
South against north on the double
In group two it is another south Mayo v north Mayo double this weekend with things getting under way in Ballinrobe on Saturday evening when Knockmore come visiting. Ballinrobe are in for a serious challenge tomorrow evening if they are to retain any interest in making the break to the last eight in the senior championship against last year’s beaten semi-finalists. Knockmore opened their championship account with a 3-16 to 1-16 win over Kiltane in a classic encounter in Bangor Erris three weeks ago in what on paper looked like their toughest assignment in the group. Knockmore have been quietly building over the last few seasons as they try to get back to the heights they are used to in north Mayo, and with Kevin McLoughlin, Gerard Gaughan, Keith Ruttledge, and Andrew Keane in their line-up they will fancy their chances of taking the win. For Ballinrobe, all eyes will be on their county players Donal Vaughan and Kenneth O’Malley to drive them on and support James Quinn and Stephen Burke in attack.
On Sunday, Kiltane will pack their bags and head south to take on Garrymore in what should be a classic encounter. Garrymore picked up the points in their last championship outing with a comprehensive win over Ballinrobe, with Enda Varley and Jimmy Killeen leading the way on the scoreboard, and Kiltane will have to keep both men on a tight leash on Sunday. The visitors, who of course went all the way to the All Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park earlier this year, come to Garrymore knowing they need to win to retain any interest in making the last eight of the championship and avoiding a final day battle with Ballinrobe to avoid the relegation play-off. With Mikie Sweeney and Ultan Corrigan in attack they possess the potency to do damage to the Garrymore back-line, but they will need to shore up their defence, this game has the real possibility of becoming an enthralling shoot-out between the two sides.
Table toppers to meet
On Saturday afternoon the two sides which picked up the wins in the opening games in group three will go toe-to-toe in Ballaghaderreen when Westport come calling at 2pm. Westport came out on the right side of a one point margin against Charlestown in the shadow of Croagh Patrick in round one and Stephen Joyce looks to have them in good shape this year. Ballaghaderreen of course won this competition only two years ago and were the favourites to come out of the group when the draw was made at the start of the year. Westport will be looking to Lee Keegan, Kevin Keane, Lewis Cawley, and Ryan Cafferkey to lead their charge, while Ballagh’ will have to do without the injured Andy Moran, so all eyes will be on the likes of David Drake, Barry Regan, and James Kilcullen who are just a few of the big names who will be expected to shine for the hosts. The other game in the group is the meeting of Davitts and Charlestown in Ballindine on Sunday, both teams will be licking their wounds after losing in round one, both sides will go into the game pretty evenly matched and will know they had chances they did not take in their previous championship games. There is never anything got too easy in Ballindine and it could swing the advantage Davitts’ way on Sunday.
Tangled up in Blue
In group four on Saturday evening, Claremorris will host last year’s beaten county finalists Breaffy in a meeting of the two sides which picked up wins in the last round. Last weekend saw these sides face each other in the league in the same venue as this weekend with Breaffy running out comfortable winners. While championship and league football are two very different animals, Breaffy look intent on having a real go at making up for the disappointed of last year and should have too much for their hosts again.
The final game in the senior championship this weekend is the meeting of Ballina Stephenites and Aghamore in James Stephens Park. Things seemed to be going very badly for Ballina so far this year, but their good showing against Mitchels last weekend will have given them a good boost ahead of Sunday’s clash. Aghamore will go to Ballina in expectation of being more than capable of picking up the win, which would set up a final day showdown with Claremorris for a place in the last four.