Senior club championship to open with a bang

GAA: Mayo GAA SFC Round 1

Catch me if you can: The race to catch Paddy Durcan and Castlebar Mitchels starts this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Catch me if you can: The race to catch Paddy Durcan and Castlebar Mitchels starts this weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Group 1

Breaffy v Garrymore

Saturday, May 14 at 7.30pm

Breaffy will be aiming to go one better than they did last year when they reached the final. They are under new management this year with Peter Ford and Shane Conway manning the sideline. Their league form has been indifferent so far this year with a win, a loss, and more recently a draw. Garrymore will be looking to avenge last year's quarter-final reversal to their hosts, but this year are without the recently transferred Enda Varley, but coming in off the back of  big win over Castlebar last weekend in the league will have them brimful of confidence.

Verdict: Breaffy

Claremorris v Davitts

Saturday, May 14 at 7.30pm

It is just over 8km from the heart of Ballidine to Claremorris's home ground and a raucous crowd is sure to pack into the ground for this south Mayo derby. Declan Ronaldson is in charge of the homeside this term and he will be looking for some of the 2014 county u21 winning side to push through this year and drive his side onwards. Davitts have Thomas Trench on the line for them this year and Ronaldson will be relying on the likes of Colm Boyle, Mickey Conroy and Aiden McTigue to lead the rest of the side in the championship. Once the draw was made, this fixture would have been clearly circled in both sides' minds and a win here will set the winner up nicely for a tilt at a last eight spot.

Verdict: Davitts


Group 2

Ballintubber v Hollymount-Carramore

Saturday, May 14 at 7.30pm

After getting dumped out of the championship at the final four stage by Breaffy last year, the boys from the 'Tubber will have been itching for the championship to come around again this year.  They have new management with Lyndon Reilly and John Feeney in charge, but it is not going to be a rocky transition. While Alan Dillon may be doubtful to feature, having both Diarmuid and Cillian O'Connor, along with a host of other top quality players like Jason Gibbons, they are a top quality side. Hollymount-Carramore had their own All Ireland adventure stretch into spring this year after claiming the intermediate title last term. This will be as serious a test as Tom Connolly's men could have had for their first game back up in senior, but they'll relish it, however it's hard to look past the home side.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Charlestown v Aghamore

Saturday, May 14 at 5.30pm

The homeside will have been plotting and planning all winter to make up for the mistakes of last year, which saw them miss out on a last eight spot after a dramatic final day in the group stages. Paul Jordan is in charge of the Sarsfields men this term and he will be hoping they can reverse what happened when these sides met in the same venue in the league last weekend when Aghamore ran out 1-17 to 3-7 winners.  Aghamore have made the last eight in the last two years and they have a steady trail of underage talent coming through their ranks to supplement the likes of Alan Freeman and Brendan Harrision, with Fergal Boland really shining with the Mayo u21s in their recent All Ireland win. It will be a tough battle, but the visitors might just edge this one.

Verdict: Aghamore

Group 3

Ballinrobe v Ballina

Sunday, May 15 at 2pm

Ballina will make the long trek to south Mayo on Sunday afternoon to take on Ballinrobe looking to make a statement of intent to make sure they make the last eight of the championship like they did last year. With the likes of Ger Cafferkey, Evan Regan and David Clarke on board, they will probably be too much for their hosts. Last weekend they saw off the challenge of Ardnaree in the league in style and will want to follow that up with another impressive display in the championship. Ballinrobe are under the guidance of Paul Keane this year and they are a club that have been looking to make the big breakthrough out of the group stages for a number of years now. They'll need Donal Vaughan to be in top form if they are to do it, but in a tough group this is a very tough opening examination for them.

Verdict: Ballina

Castlebar v Crossmolina

Saturday, May 14 at 5.30pm

On paper this is one that last year's champions should take the points from at home. But it is still just two months since they failed to show up in the All Ireland final and it has been a long road they have been on non-stop since the start of 2015. They have plenty of talent for sure and a winners mentality, but Crossmolina are a side looking to make steps back to their former glory and will fancy their chances of taking a right cut at the champions. Castlebar have a number of players either taking a break or injured which is a head ache for the two Declans on the sideline, but they will be fully focused on making sure that they lay down a marker of intent on Saturday evening.

Verdict: Castlebar

Group 4

Ballagahderreen v Ballyhaunis

Saturday, May 14 at 7.30pm

This east Mayo showdown should be an interesting encounter on Saturday evening. Ballagh' are top of division 1B in the senior league with three wins from three so far in the league, while Ballyhaunis, who are operating in a division below them, are in fifth place with two wins from three. Last year saw Ballyhaunis dip their toe at the top level for the first time in a number of years and survival was the key goal, which was achieved. This year they'll be looking to progress a bit on that. It will be a tough assignment for Tony Walkin's side against a Ballagh's side who are a teak tough championship outfit and home advantage could be worth a few points to them come full time on Saturday.

Verdict: Ballagh'

Kiltane v Knockmore

Saturday, May 14 at 7.30pm

In a weekend of very exciting looking encounters, this one is a game that could be top of the list for entertainment. The north Mayo derby is sure to be a hard hitting affair. Knockmore reached the semi-final of the competition last year and put their hosts out at the quarter-final stage in impressive style, before being knocked out by the eventual champions in the last four. Kiltane will be without Tommy Conroy, so they'll be looking even more towards Mikie Sweeney to lead the charge up front in Bangor Erris. Knockmore love championship football and a north Mayo derby is something they will relish, and with Kevin McLoughlin, Darren McHale and Keith Ruttledge on hand to keep the scoreboard ticking over, they'll probably head home with the points in the bag.

Verdict: Knockmore


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