The sun shone across the county all weekend and while the thoughts of many would have been about 99’s and lounging on the beaches from Keem to Old Head, but for the club footballers around Mayo this wasn’t a weekend for soaking up the sun.
The first round of the senior club championship saw everyone stand on an equal footing as the action began on Saturday evening as the sun kissed green fields of dreams were packed around the county, as local pride was put front and centre, on a weekend that action proper threw in the premier inter-county competition elsewhere.
The big result of the weekend came in Clogher on Saturday night where the senior newboys from Hollymount-Carramore showed to all concerned that they weren’t there to just make up the numbers taking down one of the big boys of the senior grade on their home patch on a score of 3-3 to 0-11. Kevin Costello’s first half goal saw the south Mayo men lead by 1-3 to 0-5 at the break. Ballintubber had just levelled the game up after the restart through a Cillian O’Connor free and many would have thought that score would have singled the homesides first steps to victory, but it wasn’t to be.
The killer scores in the game came in a two minute burst around the ten minute mark of the second half with Conor Keane first and then Darren McHugh finding the back of Brendan Walsh’s net in the 38th and 40th minutes. Aland Dillon was thrown into the action from the bench to try and find a way back for the west Mayo men, but Hollymount-Carramore’s rearguard action managed to hold firm over the last 20 minutes as they managed to keep Ballintubber to just five points over the closing stages of the game, four of them coming from placed balls by O’Connor and one from Dillion from play, but it wasn’t enough as the visitors held on for a historic victory in the evening sun in Clogher.
Earlier on Saturday evening, the defending county and Connacht senior champions Castlebar Mitchels showed they are well up for the challenge of whoever wants to come after their crown with big win against Crossmolina Deel Rovers at home. Danny Kirby was the star of the show for a Mitchels side who were without seven of their starters from March’s All Ireland final clash in Croke Park. Kirby who started with the number 11 shirt on his back scored three goals in a 3-13 to 0-9 win over their guests. Kirby’s preformance in front of watching Mayo senior manager Stephen Rochford who recently cut the big Castlebar man from the senior panel ahead of the championship will certainly. Kirby’s two goals within three minutes of each other midway through the first half killed off the game as a contest and Mitchels always had the number of their guests who had to do without the services of u21 star and senior panel member Conor Loftus who despite being named in the programme didn’t feature for his side. Castlebar’s James Durcan put in a excellent second half for his side kicking three wonderful points from play to ease his side home.
Kiltane and Knockmore couldn’t be separated in Bangor Erris on Saturday night when they played out a low scoring draw in hard hitting encounter in group four. The home side will feel they left the points behind them in this game wasting a number of good chances to win the game against their fellow north Mayo men and not building on the great start they got when Ultan Corrigan bagged 1-2 inside the opening eight minutes to get them up and running. Knockmore fought back well after their poor start with Keith Rutteldge’s accuracy from a big factor in them going in 0-6 to 1-2 in the lead at the break. Mikie Sweeney levelled it up early in the second half, and amazingly there would only be two more scores for the rest of the contest.
Francie O’Neill put Knockmore back in front with 36 minutes gone on the stop watch and it wasn’t until Mikie Sweeney was fouled well out the field and Shane Lindsay stepped up and drove the ball over the bar from the resulting free did Kiltane’s effort get the score they deserved and sealed at least a point from this encounter.
In the other game in group four, Ballaghaderreen had enough in the tank to see of their fellow east Mayo men Ballyhaunis on score of 1-12 to 0-12. Despite having to do without the injured duo of Barry Regan and Andy Moran they hit the ground running when Gavin Conway raised the green flag three mintues in. Ballyahunis levelled it up with a three point salvo, before the home side hit back with three of their own in quick succession and at the end of the first half they went in leading by 1-4 to 0-5. Both sides swapped points throughout the second half i, with Ballagh' just having enough to keep themselves three or so points in front of their guests at all times and Conway’s goal proving vital at the full time whistle.
In Fr O’Hara Park in Charlestown on Saturday night Aghamore ran out big winners on a score of 3-15 to 0-8 against their hosts. Fergal Boland’s goal just before the break saw his side go in leading 1-6 to 0-3 after he was played through by David Kenny. The second half saw Aghamore pull away from Charlestown and by the time they hit their second goal through Alan Freeman following a strong run by Brendan Harrision with six minutes left they were leading 1-13 to 0-7 and cruising to victory. The rounded off the evening with their third and best goal of the day when Kenny Feeney went on a 30 yard solo run before finishing the ball to the back of the net with aplomb. If anyone is interested in watching the game back you can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOpmofBkIlI.
Group one saw Davitts have a six point win in the south Mayo derby against Claremorris running out 3-8 to 1-8 winners of Claremorris. In the other game in that group last years beaten county finalists Breaffy had 1-9 to 0-6 win over Garrymore in Breaffy. The homeside hit the front early on thanks to a Robbie Fadden goal and they then went into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes, but the vistors then found their form lead by an inspirational Shane Nally and reeled off six points on the bounce, before a Conor O’Shea free send the sides in level at the break. The second half saw Breaffy manage to hold their visitors scoreless for the entire 37 minutes played in the final half and they managed to tag on six points of their own two of them coming from the ageless Gerry Jennings who put in a man of the match display for his side to see them home and over the line.
The only senior game on Sunday, saw Ballina Stephenites run out big winners away to Ballinrobe. There was just two points between the sides at the break with Ballina leading 0-6 to 0-4, but an early straight red card for Donal Vaughan not long after the thrown in saw the game swing completely in the favour of the Stephenites. Almost straight after the red card Ballina hit their first goal through Ciaran Treacy, he’d go on to find the net once more with Kevin Newell and Stephen Mullins also scoring goals, with a Derek McDonnell finding the net from the penalty spot for Ballinrobe coming in reply as Ballina ran out 4-12 to 1-5 winners
Claremorris 1-08 Davitts 3-08
Breaffy 1-09 Garrymore 0-06
Aghamore 3-15 Charlestown 0-08
Ballintubber 0-11 Hollymount-Carramore 3-03
Castlebar Mitchels 3-13 Crossmolina 0-09
Ballinrobe 1-05 Ballina Stephenites 4-12
Kiltane 1-04 Knockmore 0-07
Ballaghaderreen 1-12 Ballyhaunis 0-12