On Sunday in Elverys MacHale Park in the Connacht Junior Football Championship the Mayo team will be making a longer trek to the home of Mayo football than their opponents from Roscommon. According to the AA’s route planner, it is 46 miles from Achill Head on the far side of the island to MacHale Park, while their opponents on Sunday, Michael Glaveys from Ballinlough area of Roscommon, face a 34 mile journey to the game.
Getting to this stage has also seen both sides take different routes, with Achill progressing to the provincial stage of the competition even after losing their Mayo final at the death thanks to a last gasp Adam Murphy point for Castlebar Mitchels B. But with B teams not allowed to represent their county, the men from the island had to pick themselves up from that defeat and get ready for a crack at Connacht glory. It would not be an unprecedented achievement, with Killala doing just that in 2006 after they had lost to Crossmolina Deel Rovers B in that year’s county final.
Achill manager Paul McNamara will know that his side can give a much better account of themselves than they did in the Mayo final, where they should have been more comfortably beaten by Mitchels, and if it were not for the county town side’s error prone shooting the game would have been well over before Murphy’s point.
He will be looking to Pee Sweeney, Michael D McNamara, Michael Dara Sweeney, Jonathan Fadian, and Stephen Grealis to drive them on Sunday against an experienced and hungry side from not to far over the Roscommon border.
For their opponents, it has been a long time coming. As recently as eight years ago they were playing in the senior championship and in 2007 they contested the Roscommon intermediate final, but the following years have seen them slip into the bottom ranks of the junior championship. In both 2012 and 2013 they reached the Roscommon junior final only to be beaten on both occasions, it was a case of making no mistake third time around this year as they saw off Shannon Gaels with three points to spare at the start of the month.
Achill will know that there will not be anything easy on Sunday against the men from just over the border, and a place in the Connacht final and the possibility of being just a few steps from Croke Park is something that will be driving them on in their quest for glory. Throw in on Sunday is at 2pm in Elverys MacHale Park.