The last of the big titles to be given out in Mayo football will be handed out on Sunday week, all going well, with the final of the MD Roofing Services Mayo u21 football championship pencilled in for that date. Before then tomorrow night, Saturday, November 29 there is the small matter of the two semi-finals in the competition down for decision in Elverys MacHale Park.
Getting things under way at 6pm is the meeting of Claremorris and Ballintubber with John Glavey the man in the middle. Ballintubber booked their place in the final four with a four point win over last year’s champions Moy Davitts in Castlebar a fortnight ago. The boys from the Tubber had to do it the hard way when they were reduced to 14 men after Conor Finnerty was shown the line with a quarter of the game left. Ballintubber will be looking for Diarmuid O’Connor, Michael Plunkett, Brian Walsh, and Eoin Heneghan to put in big performances for them on Saturday evening. Ballintubber came out of a tough group alongside fellow quarter-finalists Knockmore after all three sides in the group finished level on two points with a win and a loss to their names. The Tubber got by on scoring difference ahead of a Charlestown team that had beaten them in the first round in late September.
Their opponents on Saturday, Claremorris, had four points to spare over Swinford in their quarter-final win three weeks ago. Before that they laid down a real marker of intent in the group stage where they won three games from three, seeing off Aghamore, Crossmolina, and Erris St Pats to make the last eight. Mayo u21 man James Shaughnessy was the main man in the quarter-final where he hit a personal tally of 0-10 over the hour, with six of those points coming from play. The Ballintubber defence will have to be on their toes to keep him quiet tomorrow evening. Ian Stagg found the back of the net early on in their quarter-final win over the east Mayo men. Shaughnessy, Brendan Walsh, Ryan Quirke, and Stagg will be expected to stand up and show what they are made of if the south Mayo side are to get over the men from Abbeyside.
Breaffy and Ballina set for battle
The second semi-final is the meeting of Breaffy and Ballina Stephenites at 7.30pm with Garryown McMahon holding court in the middle of the park. Breaffy come into the game on the back of a very impressive display in the quarter-finals where they racked up 5-12 against Aghamore as they booked their place in Saturday’s showdown. That win followed in the footsteps of some equally impressive performances in the group stages where they won both their games and scored 4-20 against Westport and 5-15 against Swinford in the process. Even more impressive about their win in the quarter-final was that they did it without the services of Conor O’Shea who was out with an injured ankle. The main man pulling the strings against Aghamore was the livewire Tommy O’Reilly who finished up the day with 2-3 to his name from his corner forward position. Breaffy also boast in their ranks Liam Irwin, Matthew Ruane, Michael Hall, Gary Walsh, Robbie Fadden, and Gerry Hunt, and will take some stopping if they get going.
Standing in their way is the Ballina Stephenites side who saw off Knockmore in their quarter-final meeting in James Stephens Park thanks in no small part to the 10 points from the boot of Brendan Murray. Murray and his fellow full-forward marksman Evan Regan scored all but two of their side’s 14 points against a Knockmore side who dug deep and battled until the end against their near neighbours. Ballina have had to dig deep all year in the u21 championship, having just escaped the group stages by a single point on scoring difference from Castlebar Mitchels. The three teams in their group ended up on two points each, with a win and a loss in their columns. Ballina lost to Mitchels by two points, but beat Moy Davitts by a single point, with Moy Davitts’ four point win over Castlebar sending the county town side out of the competition. That battling belief will see them put it up to Breaffy on Saturday evening and show them no fear in what should be an exciting encounter.
All in all it should be a great evening’s entertainment in MacHale Park, with some of the best young players in the county on display, and some will be looking to give the new Mayo senior management duo of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes more food for thought over the Christmas period.