Ardnaree have had four weeks to drink in the fact that they had finally got back to the promised land of the intermediate championship for next year following their victory over Killala in the Mayo Junior Championship final on October 18. The withdrawal of the Leitrim representatives from the provincial competition gave Ardanree a free pass into Sunday's Connacht final. The form that Ardnaree have shown this year, you would have to assume that they would have booked that passage themselves with ease if they had to play a semi-final, but that is irrevelent and all that matters is the here and now and on Sunday, the Galway junior champions Clifden come calling to MacHale Park.
Ardnaree are raging hot favourites for this game and seeing as they had 25 points to spare over their opponents in the county final and were handing out hammerings all the way through the Mayo competition it is hard to argue against it. Declan O'Dea's men have been one of the most entertaining sides to watch in Mayo all year, and playing their league football in division 1B all year has also brought them on in leaps and bounds. In attack, O'Dea will be hoping that captain Eoghan McCormack, Chris Walsh, Ronan Doherty, and Cathal Noone bring their county final form with them. Those four men combined for a total of 5-11 between them in their 6-14 to 0-7 win over Killala. At the back their full back line of Conor Naylor, Ian Clarke, and Conor Cawley were hardly tested in that game and they will have to make sure they are back up to speed on Sunday to shut down any attacking threat shown by Clifden inside foward line. They will be well covered by Michael McCormack, Pat Lacken, and Shane Timlin in the half-back line, while Stephen Tighe will be looked to for a big showing in the middle of the park.
Clifden have had already to come through two games in the provincial championships seeing off Owenmore Gaels from Sligo by six points in a quarter-final and Shannon Gaels from Roscommon on a score of 2-9 to 0-9 in their semi-final victory. If the west Galway men are to be victorious, they will need big displays from forwards Gerard Gibbons, Feichin Mitchell, Emmet Moran, and team captain Damien Joyce and midfielders Chris Holmes and Cathal Joyce. Defensively, they will look to John Mannion and centre back Mike O’ Toole to keep the Ardnaree at bay.