Last years beaten finalists Breaffy made it to their third Mayo senior semi-finals in four years on Saturday afternoon after a hard fought win over Crossmolina Deel Rovers in MacHale Park. Peter Ford and Shane Conway’s side were pushed right to the wire by a battling brave Deel Rovers side, with the displays by the likes of Fionan Duffy, Conor Loftus and Cathal Carolan pointing towards a very bright future for the north Mayo men. There were also very good showings for the beaten side by goalkeeper Patrick Loftus and veteran Peader Gardiner who almost caused a major surprise against a much fancied Breaffy side.
With eight minutes left in normal time, Crossmolina’s Fionan Duffy hit his fourth point of the day and pushed his side into a one point lead and Joe Keane’s side looked like they were on the cusp of a big win. However when it came to the crunch, Breaffy upped their performance with Aidan O’Shea taking the game by the scruff of the neck and drove home scoring 1-4 without reply.
Breaffy sub Robbie Fadden looped over an equaliser from well out the park 54 minutes in, Aidan O’Shea edged his side ahead after a powerful run down the left hand side right from the resulting kick out and as Breaffy got the bit between their teeth. Three minutes later, Liam Irwin who had kicked an unusual number of wides for a man who was coming into the game in great form earlier in the game nailed a big point from a free close to the sideline on the stand side into the Bacon Factory end three minutes later to stretch the gap out to two. But Crossmolina still had a chance to nick a goal and grab the win, but it was Breaffy who rustled the net with the vital score.
Robbie Fadden won the ball out under the stand and drove forward moving the ball to Aidan O’Shea who fed it off to the hard working Rory Martyn. The Breaffy wing forward kept his cool and slipped in Tommy O’Reilly who had just come on for Conor O’Shea showed his attacking instinct to drive the ball high past Loftus and ease Breaffy’s worries. The final score came from sub James Minogue who replaced Matthew Ruane who picked up a worrying looking injury for the victors just as the game ticked into injury time.
The first half ended all square with the sides going in locked together at six points apiece. Breaffy hit the front early on and were two points to the good with Irwin tacking on two points from frees inside the first six minutes. Ten minutes in Crossmolina lost Brian Benson when he picked up an injury that saw him needed to be stretchered off the field after a long stoppage.
Duffy hit the Deel Rovers men’s first score of the day from a free on 13 minutes, not long after Breaffy edged two points clear again when Robbie Hennelly drove the ball over the bar from a placed ball 45m out near the stand side into the Albany End of the ground. Cathal Carolan kicked his sides second score with a great left footed effort from 40m out, which was replied to by a Kevin Curry score that kicked off a scoring run of six points from the 21st minute until the half time break. Chris Myles and Carolan leveled the game up again with two quick points, before Michéal Jennings edged Breaffy back in front.
Crosmolina came right back down the field and two scores from Cathal Carolan edged his side in front for the first time in the game with two big scores from well out the park. The last score of the half came from Jennings once again to make it all square at the break.
Knockmore stand tall to show championship credentials
In the second game on Saturday evening in MacHale Park, Knockmore showed their championship pedigree with a hard fought win over Aghamore as the sun set in the county ground. Knockmore were full value for their 0-10 to 0-8 win, playing the better football on the day and taking their chances when they came up.
The east Mayo men who were beaten by Ballintubber last weekend, weren’t for sticking to the traditional numbers of 1 to 15, with Alan Freeman and Kenny Feeney who were wearing numbers eight and nine respectively lining out in the full forward line, and number two David Kenny and number six Brendan Harrision taking their place in the middle third after throw-in.
Mayo team-mates Alan Freeman and Kevin McLoughlin kicked the opening two scores for their respective sides inside the opening five minutes. The north Mayo men hit the front six minutes in with Keith Ruttledge getting his first score of the day, which was replied to almost instantly by a Freeman free. A nice Darren Duffy score on the ten minute mark, edged Aghamore in front again, before Colm Reape hit the first of his three first half points to level it up.
Freeman put his side back in front again with another placed ball, but his side were about to be dealt a serious blow when they lost Fergal Boland after he picked up a head injury following what looked like an accidental clash of heads in the middle of the field. Reape tagged on one more not long after for his side and two minutes from the end of normal time in the half, McLoughlin intercepted an attempted Aghamore break from the back and he fed it to Reape who fired it over the bar on the turn, to send his side in leading 0-5 to 0-4 at the short whistle.
Aghamore tied the game up right from the throw in with Alan Freeman hitting his fourth point of the day. Kieran Langan kicked two good points for the victors with one coming in reply from Conor Lyons in the middle of them over the next ten minutes. Before Knockmore edged their lead out to three points over the next few minutes which looked like it would be a winning lead. Aghamore though battled back hard to try and get themselves back into the game with two Freeman frees cutting the gap back to just a single point as the game entered injury time. But the final score of the game came from sub Francie O’Neill who swept one over the bar from close range to ensure that Knockmore ran out two point winners at full time.