It’ll be a red v blue final in MacHale Park in a fortnights time after Castlebar Mitchels secured their place in the county senior decider for the fifth time since 2010 on Sunday afternoon with a solid display against Knockmore.
Mitchels were pushed hard by the north Mayo outfit for long periods of time but Declan O’Reilly’s sides greater quality all over the field saw them home in the closing quarter of the contest. Both sides traded three points each in the opening ten minutes with Barry Moran opening the scoring inside the first minute, Keith Rutlege replied for Knockmore with a fine score form tight to the sideline two minutes later. Shane Hopkins nudged Castlebar back into the lead three minutes later, but that was soon canceled out by a Colm Reape pointed free. Eoghan Reilly got things moving again on the scoreboard for Mitchels not long after from a free of his own, before another Reape free had the game tied up ten minutes in.
Two minutes later the first of six goals in the game arrived when Reilly was on hand to finish the ball to the net after being played in by Neil Douglas, that was followed soon after by Cian Costello point and one from play from the hard working Shane Hopkins, to put Mitchels five to the good. Reape and Darren McHale kept Knockmore in touch with points not long after and when McHale and Hopkins traded scores in the 23rd minute the score was 1-6 to 0-6. Knockmore then hit a rich run of form and reeled off three points in the next five minutes to level the game up with Kieran Langan, Kevin McLoughlin and Darren McHale all landing points.
A Paddy Durcan point two minutes from the short whistle, had Mitchels back in front and a goal from Barry Moran who finished off a move involving Hopkins and Richie Feeney to put Castlebar back into a four point lead and looked to have undone all the good work that Knockmore had done in the previous few minutes. But Knockmore weren’t going to bend the knee that easy and right on half time Reape won the ball from Ray O’Malley and found himself through on goal and buried it to the back of the net to leave the score a 1-9 to 2-7 at the turn around.
An early Cian Costello point and then a penalty from Neil Douglas had Mitchels back in front point by four points six minutes into the second half. Douglas’ penalty was dispatched with ease to the net and Mitchels looked to be back up and running. But back came Knockmore and Keith Rutledge was allowed to glide through the Castlebar rearguard and find the back of Rory Byrne’s net on the 44 minute mark and it was back to a one point game again. But that score really kicked life back into Castlebar as they went on to outscore Knockmore by 1-7 to 0-3 over the closing 15 minutes of the match with their fourth goal coming four minutes from time from sub James Durcan.
Mitchels will be glad they got a test like this when the final comes around, despite running out handsome winners in the end, they will know they have a lot of things to work on over the coming weeks if they are to see off Breaffy and claim a 29th senior county title.
Castlebar Mitchels: E Reilly (1-2, 2f ), N Douglas (1-2. 1-0 pen, 0-2f ), Barry Moran (1-1 ), J Durcan (1-1 ), S Hopkins (0-2 ), C Costello (0-2 ), P Durcan (0-1 ), N Lydon (0-1 ), R Feeney (0-1 ), R Burke (0-1 ), F Durkan (0-1 )
Knockmore: C Reape (1-4. 0-4f ), K Rutledge (1-1 ), K Langan (0-2, 1f ), D McHale (0-2 ), K McLoughlin (0-1 ), P Naughton (0-1 ), A Loftus (0-1 )
Castlebar Mitchels: R Byrne; S Conlon, R O’Malley, D Newcombe; P Durcan, E Reilly, G McDonagh; T Cunniffe, B Moran; S Hopkins, N Lydon, N Douglas; C Costello, R Feeney, D Kirby. Subs: R Burke for G McDonagh (BC ), J Durcan for C Costello, F Durkan for S Hopkins, S Keane for N Douglas
Knockmore: G Higgins; C Canning, S McHale, J Borgan; J Rice, D Walsh, A Stadler; A Kane, K Langan; T Clarke, K McLoughlin, P Naughton; K Rutledge, D McHale, C Reape. Subs: S Rutledge for T Clarke, N Hardy for P Naughton, J Ruddy for K Langan, J Coy for J Brogan.