Eight became four over the course of the weekend when the quarter-finals of the Mayo GAA JFC were down for decision. At the end of four pulsating games, Achill, Ardagh, Ardanree and Killala were the four sides left standing at the final whistle and moved on to the final four stages of the competition.
The action got underway on Saturday night in Elverys MacHale Park last years beaten finalists Achill were given a serious examination by Lousiburgh. The islanders place in the semi-finals was only secured by a brilliant goal ten minutes from time from the boot of Jonathan Fadian, which killed off Lousiburghs efforts to reel them in. Fadian's goal was worked at lighting pace from back to front and when the wing-forward let fly there was nothing Danny O'Malley in the Louisburgh goal could do to stop it.
Paul McNamara's side had led by 0-9 to 0-5 at the break, but despite kicking the first score of the second half to go five clear early on in the terminal period, Lousiburgh kept chipping away and a brace of points from Kevin Gibbons along with one from Tom McDonagh had the gap back to two points seven minutes into the half. Brian Lavelle kicked the gap back out to three points with a pointed free in the ninth minute of the half, but it would be another ten minutes before his side forced the scoreboard operator into work again. Louisburgh were gaining control of the contest at this stage, but only had a solitary point from Padraig Prendergast to show for it and were still two behind when Fadian found the back of the net and ended the game as a contest as Achill shut down shop for the final ten minutes and held out to register a 1-12 to 0-10 win and book their place in the last four of the competition.
There was one well known GAA personality who was an interested spectator on the evening, with former All Ireland winning Meath manager Sean Boylan watching his son Ciaran in action for Achill where he is now playing. The coach of the Achill team is none other than John Maughan whom Boylan got the better of on the sideline in the 1996 All Ireland senior final.
On Sunday in the same venue, Ardagh had four points to spare over Ballintubber B as they booked their place in the semi-final stages of the competition. The win was soured when Sean Carey who had kicked two points from play was shown a red card seconds from the end. Ardagh led by 1-6 to 1-4 at the break with Dara Timlin netting for the victors and David McHale for the west Mayo men. The north Mayo outfit were able to keep their noses in front all through the second half as they ran out 1-12 to 1-8 winners at the end.
Double header in Knockmore
Knockmore was the venue for a double header of games on Sunday evening, with Killala and Crossmolina Deel Rovers B meeting in the first game on the new pitch in the Lough Conn venue and the Moy derby between Ardanree and Ballina Stephenites B taking place on the old pitch in the same venue straight after.
Farrell fires Killala to victory
In the first game, it was the narrowest of margins that separated the sides at the end with Killala coming through on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-12 thanks to a injury time 45 from Andrew Farrell which sealed their progress. It was the right result after a tough battle, with Killala the better side for the most part but they were unable to make it count on the scoreboard as they should. But credit to Crossmolina who dug in and gave a serious account of themselves and they will feel themselves unlucky that centre-half forward Ian Rowland had been sent to the line with a black card a few minutes into the second half. Rowland had scored three points at the stage of the game one of them a sweet strike right form the throw in and another a fantastic effort from a free kick tight to the sideline with his left peg. Farrell was Killala's leader on the field finishing with six points to his name and put in a fine shift in the middle of the park. Killala had led 0-5 to 0-1 early on the first half, but Crossmolina came back at them strongly and had the game all tied up at five points each by the 15 minute mark. But come the short whistle and Killala had regained the initiative and went in leading by 0-9 to 0-7. What the second half lacked on the scoreboard it made up for in intensity and when Gerard Haran leveled the game up as the clock ticked into injury time it looked like the momentum was with the Deelside men. But when it came down to the crunch, Farrell stepped up and drove the winning score sweetly over the bar.
Ardanree wins battle of the Moy
The final game of the weekends action in the junior quarter finals was a real local affair and was played out in front of a very healthy and vocal crowd as Ballina Stephenites B and Ardanree met in the Moy derby. With just the river separating both sides, there was plenty of local interest in this clash. While the opening exchanges were a fraught and hard hitting affair, but Ardanree's class at this grade shown through in the second half as they put the hurt on their neighbours as the ran out 1-16 to 0-4 winners. Eoin McCormack was the top scorer on the day with seven points, while sub Darragh McCormack found the back of the net for the only goal of the game with his first touch after being introduced into the fray. The game which was played in terrible conditions did nothing to aid free flowing football, but it was an intense battle and victory that was greatly enjoyed by the men from Adrnaree.
Mayo GAA Junior Football Championship Quarter Final
Achill 1-12 Louisburgh 0-10
Killala 0-13 Crossmolina B 0-12
Ardanree 1-16 Ballina B 0-4
Ardagh 1-12 Ballintubber 1-8