There is no let up for Mayo kingpins Castlebar Mitchels who have another seven day turnaround this week before they take on Sligo champions Tourlestrane in Markieviciz Park in the Connacht Senior Club Championship quarter-final tomorrow at 2pm. Declan O'Reilly's men were in scintillating form in last Saturday night's Mayo senior final when they ran out 3-13 to 0-10 winners over a valiant Knockmore side who ran out of gas in the second half when Mitchels really put the foot down.
Paddy Durcan's man of the match display where he kicked 1-3 from play, along with shadowing Kevin McLoughlin's every move, was one another feather in the cap of his rise up the levels of the game, he entered the the game with a quarter of an hour left with a bit of a hamstring niggle that is something that Mitchels will hope is only a minor knock.
Tomorrow they face a Tourlestrane side who won their 12th Sligo senior title with a 1-14 to 1-7 win over St Mary's at the start of October, the day after Mayo were beaten by Dublin in the All Ireland senior final replay. Their management team of Eamon O'Hara (who managed Ballaghaderreen last year ) and Gerry McGowan have been spending a good bit of time in MacHale Park over the past few weeks keeping their eye on the progress of the Mayo championship ahead of this game. One familiar face in the Sligo champions set up is former Mayo footballer Pat Harte who has been plying his trade in the Sligo club scene for the past number of years.
While O'Hara and McGowan will have plenty of background work done on their opponents tomorrow, it is hard to see them stopping the Mitchels' juggernaut in the shadow of Benbulben. After another harrowing All Ireland final defeat in March, it could have been tough for Mitchels to come back again this year, but they regrouped and responded and reshuffled things and came back with a different approach and getting excellent results. Ten of the side who started in that defeat on St Patrick's Day started last Saturday night, but their half back line was the only one that remained the same. They had to rip up their full back line with Ger McDonagh pushing back from the middle of the park to great effect in the central position and Shane Irwin flanking him in the corner. A fit again Aidan Walsh is now partnering Barry Moran in the middle of the field, with Fergal Durkan, Cian Costello, and James Durcan now manning the half forward line, freeing up Neil Douglas who has once again been the best attacker in the club game this year pushing further in alongside Neil Douglas, with Shane Hopkins dropping back to sweep in their defence.
Mitchels have proved adaptable and shown their resilience this year and it is hard to see the Sligo men stopping them tomorrow.