The Mayo junior footballers will go looking to claim the first provincial title of the year for the county on Sunday lunchtime when they face off against Galway in the Connacht Junior Football Championship final in Carrick-on-Shannon. Seán McLoughlin's men booked their place in the provincial final last weekend thanks to a 2-10 to 1-10 win over the defending champions Sligo in James Stephens Park in Ballina. Sunday's game will be the curtain raiser to the senior championship meeting between Leitrim and Galway, the winners of which will face Mayo in the senior semi-final in five weeks time.
Mayo last claimed the Connacht junior crown in 2012, when they went all the way to the All Ireland final only to be overturned by Kerry in the final that year in Ennis on a scoreline of 0-19 to 1-7. They have tasted All Ireland glory on five occasions in the past with the last title coming in 1997, thanks to a 2-8 to 1-10 win over the Kingdom. Last week's win over Sligo saw Mayo end the Yeats County men's tilt at a three-in-a-row in Connacht, and set up Sunday's meeting with the Tribesmen who saw off the challenge of Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-7 with Dunmore-McHales' Matthew Reddington grabbing the goal for the Tribesmen in the first half.
Mayo booked their place in the final with an impressive display against Sligo, with Kilalla's Andrew Farrell putting in a fine performance in attack bagging 1-4 during his 55 minutes on the field. Mayo also had to line out in that game with two of their senior panellists Micheál Forde and Darren McHugh, missing out through injury, but the rest of the squad picked up the mantle and ran with it. McLoughlin will be hoping for something similar on Sunday against our southern neighbours. Mayo's victory last week was backboned by a purple patch that saw them score 2-4 between the 10th and 25th minutes of the first half, with Belmullet's Eoin O'Donoghue smashing the ball to the net for Mayo's first goal, before Farrell grabbed his goal and chipped in with a couple of points.
McLoughlin has a squad with players from all over the county, with 15 clubs from all four divisional boards represented by the players who took to the field during the win last week against Sligo. In defence Pat Barrett, Eoin O'Donoghue, and Mikey Barrett put in big performances and will hope to do the same again on Sunday, while Padraic Feerick and Peter Collins formed a solid midfield partnership. Up front Farrell was supported by captain Cathal Freeman with Damien McGing, Darren Durcan and Darragh Joyce other quality players that Mayo can look to on Sunday.
The game throws in at 1.30pm.