It's been some week for Noel Connelly, the former Mayo captain was appointed as the new joint manager of the Mayo senior football team alongside his old running mate Pat Holmes. While the whole appointment process and the wrongs and rights of it were played out in the public spotlight, Connelly also had to be preparing his Hollymount-Carramore team for Saturday afternoon's Egan Jewelers Intermediate Championship semi-final replay against Belmullet. Last weekends meeting between the sides wasn't anything to write home about as Belmullet played to their strengths and packed their defence and hit Hollymount-Carramore on the break and used the sharp-shooting of Jonathon Donoghue to keep themselves in the game.
On Saturday, the north Mayo men stuck to the same tactics with just Donoghue and Cathal Barrett isolated in their forward line for long periods as they looked to use their mass defence to upset the south Mayo men. It was working like a charm early and Belmullet went in leading a dour enough encounter 0-4 to 0-3 at the break. But the decisive moment in the game happened just before the turn around when Belmullet's Michael Carey picked up two yellow cards inside two minutes and was sent to the line. That sending off opened up the field a bit more for Hollymount-Carramore to exploit and they did that with ease in the end running out 1-9 to 0-6 winners. Connelly's side hit a real purple patch early in the second half when they scored 1-6 without reply with last years Mayo minor All Ireland winning captain Stephen Coen finding the back of the net after being set up by Conor Keane. Hollymount-Carramore's performance was backboned by an impressive midfield display by Padraig Ferrick which Darren Coen, Clifford Connolly and Kevin Costello all chipping in when needed. Belmullet's brave fight faltered when they were reduced to 14 men before the break and while they did kick the last two scores of the game, the contest was well and truly over at that stage. Hollymount-Carramore go on to face Ballyhaunis in the final next Sunday.
Ballina keep their senior status
Ballina Stephenites secured their senior status for another year with a hard fought three point win over Westport in Elverys MacHale Park on Saturday afternoon. The battle between the two clubs from two of the counties biggest towns was a poorly attended affair, and the action on the pitch for long times was something that won't live long in the mind of those in attendance, but for the Stephenites and their supporters they won't care about that. The game was won by a late goal from former Mayo minor star Alex Corduff who was able to capatilise on a mistake in the Westport defence and drill the ball past the dive of Tom Higgins in the Westport goal with three minutes to go.
Ballina started the brightest in the game and went in leading by 1-4 to 0-6 at the break, thanks to an early Evan Regan goal. The Ballina ace marksman finished up the day with 1-4 to his name, he scored all but one of those points in the opening 30 minutes. There was plenty of inter-county experience on show on the day, with David Clarke and Ger Cafferkey lining out for Ballina and Kevin Keane and Lee Keegan for Westport. Keane picked up a knock early on and struggled to remain on the field and despite his best efforts to help his side, he had to be replaced early in the second half.
Westport fought hard to get back into the contest and with five minutes left on the clock they pulled themselves level through a David Hoban point. It looked at that stage that the momentum was with the west Mayo men, but Corduff's well placed finished secured Ballina's place at the top table of Mayo football for another year.
Claremorris cruise into minor final
On Friday night under the lights in MacHale Park the final semi-finals in the Mayo minor A championship were down for decision. The most eye catching result of the night was the performance of the south Mayo champions Claremorris who ran in half a dozen goals against the north Mayo champions Crossmolina Deel Rovers in a 6-18 to 3-6 win. Claremorris were clinical from the get go and 2-8 to 0-0 up by the quarter of an hour mark. Claremorris wing forward Cathal Walsh finished up the game with four goals to his name while his team-mate Sean Diskin put on a display of great display of point taking during the game. Crossmolina to their credit kept plugging away until the end even when the result was never in doubt and after claiming a first north Mayo minor A title in 20 years, it will still be looked back on as good year for the Deelside men. The game was spoilt at the end when a flare-up saw a number of players from both sides get involved with each other at the final whistle.
The other semi-final was a far tighter affair where Balla and Moy Davitts locked horns. The east Mayo men ran out 1-14 to 1-12 winners in the end after playing most of the second half with 14 men. But they will be worried that they let a 1-11 to 1-4 half-time lead slip like they did in the second half. Balla put on a great showing in the second half but were never able to reel in the seven point interval gap, they managed to bring it back to one point as early as the 41st minute, but Bohola Moy Davitts were able to dig in and hold out thanks to scores from Brian Reape and Conor Byrne when they really needed it. But they know, they'll have to do much better next time around.