Last chance to make the elite eight

Kiltane’s Mikie Sweeney will be a key man in his side’s bid to avoid the relegation play-offs this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Kiltane’s Mikie Sweeney will be a key man in his side’s bid to avoid the relegation play-offs this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

A hectic weekend of action is in store in the Mayo GAA Senior Football championship, with four of the quarter-finalists already known, the final four spots are still up for grabs over Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

In group one, Castlebar Mitchels have already booked their place in the last eight thanks to wins over Ballintubber and Crossmolina Deel Rovers. On Sunday afternoon the Mitchels will travel to the southern border of the county to take on Shrule-Glencorrib at 2pm. Shane Conway and Alan Nolan have kept the defending champions moving in a high gear after taking over from Pat Holmes and a third win from three looks to be on the cards for them on Sunday. There opponents, who drew their opening game against Crossmolina Deel Rovers, will be hoping that they can upset the applecart on Sunday and keep themselves out of relegation play-off bother. They are currently sitting in third place in the group ahead of Crossmolina on points difference, they are seven points better off that the north Mayo men, but will know that Mitchels are more than capable of running up a big score against them and seeing that advantage wiped out.

The second game in the group sees Ballintubber head to Crossmolina. The Deel Rovers were given a serious beating by Castlebar last time out and will be hoping to fare much better at home against Ballintubber, but the visitors’ deck comes loaded with inter-county stars Cillian O’Connor, Alan Dillon, Jason Gibbons, and Diarmud O’Connor. Ballintubber will go in as favourites to take the win, while Crossmolina, if all goes according to expected lines, will be hoping for Castlebar to put the hurt on Shrule-Glenncorrib so they can overtake them on points difference and avoid the relegation scrap.

In section two the two sides making the last eight are already known with both Knockmore and Garrymore having two wins from two in the bank already. Both sides will meet in Knockmore on Saturday evening, with first place in the group and a seeded quarter-final spot up for grabs. The north Mayo men will be looking to make home advantage count and see off the challenge of their southern opponents, but Garrymore showed they have plenty of attacking fire power in their win over Kiltane last time out and will not fear their hosts. The real fun is in the second game in the group where Kiltane will host Ballinrobe on Saturday evening. Both sides are currently pointless at the minute, with Kiltane sitting at the bottom of the table one point behind Ballinrobe on scoring difference. So the maths is pretty simple — Kiltane must win to avoid the relegation play-off while a draw will do for Ballinrobe. The north Mayo men, who made the All Ireland intermediate final last year, have found life back in the top tier tough this year, but they are a proud bunch who will give their all to make sure they avoid the relegation battle.

Get the calculators ready

In group three it is all to play for everyone. Ballaghaderreen top the group with two wins from two and look to be dead certs to make the last eight, unless they take a serious hammering from Charlestown and Westport do a similar job on Davitts. Ballaghaderreen head to their near neighbours on Saturday evening, and after their hosts’ surprise win over Davitts last time out they know that win should send them into the last eight thanks to their superior points difference on Westport (if three teams finish level on points it goes down to scoring difference rather than head to head, Ballaghaderreen are +17, Westport 11 and Charlestown +1 ). But if Ballaghaderreen turn them over it will probably be game over for them if Westport beat Davitts. Davitts will travel to Westport and know that a win will give them a fighting chance of avoiding relegation. If they win and Ballagh beat Charlestown, Davitts, Westport, and Charlestown will all finish level on two points with scoring difference coming into play and Davitts are -7 at the minute, while Westport are -11 and Charlestown +1. It will be a case of calculators to the ready whatever the outcome on Saturday evening.

In section four, Breaffy are through already with two wins from two and will host Ballina on Sunday afternoon in their final group game and are hot favourites to make it three from three when the north Mayo men come calling. Ballina will be putting it all on the line to avoid the relegation play-off and it could come down to scoring difference on Sunday between themselves and Aghamore when the final whistles are blown. Aghamore will host Claremorris where a win for Claremorris will send them through alongside Breaffy, while an Aghamore win should also send them into the last eight, unless Ballina better that win by three points against Breaffy. Claremorris are favourites to pick up the win on the road, but it is not going to be an easy one.

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