Serious stuff for senior sides starts this weekend

GAA: Mayo GAA SFC Round One

Green and red, but this weekend blue and white: Aidan O'Shea was at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Fuels County event in Dublin this week. Photo: Sportsfile

Green and red, but this weekend blue and white: Aidan O'Shea was at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Fuels County event in Dublin this week. Photo: Sportsfile

This weekend sees the start of the race to claim the Moclair Cup, Castlebar Mitchels are looking to make it three championships in a row? Who of the other 15 sides can stop them; we preview the action in the first round action down for decision this weekend. 

Mayo SFC Group 1

Charlestown v Knockmore

Saturday, May 6 at 5pm in Charlestown

The visitors were last year's beaten county finalists and will be one of the sides expected to be in the reckoning once again this term when it comes to the business end of the championship. The north Mayo men have won two from two in the league so far, seeing off Hollymount-Carramore in fine style last time out and Ballaghaderreen. The hosts are still looking for a win, having lost their two opening league games, losing to Breaffy last time out and Aghamore saw them off in their first round game. Knockmore will be looking to the likes of Kevin McLoughlin and Shane McHale to lead them, while the likes of Tom Parsons, Jack Reilly and Garreth O'Donnell will need to hit top form for the hosts. This is rivalry that has had plenty of epic chapters in the past, and if it can live up to something like some of those games tomorrow night we are all in for a treat.

Verdict: Knockmore

Garrymore v Westport

Saturday, May 6 at 7pm in Garrymore

The All Ireland Intermediate Champions will get a welcome return to the senior ranks when they hit south Mayo on Saturday night. Garrymore have had a tough start to the league going down to both Breaffy and Castlebar Mitchels, and were also involved in a crazy game against Ballaghaderreen that ended up in a draw. Championship days in Garrymore are always special occasions and they'll look to draw on that tomorrow evening. For Westport it's not back to reality after their run to All Ireland success at the intermediate level at the start of the year. They are playing in division 1B of the league still and have won two from two. For most sides this could be test they might falter in, but with their young energetic side, and having Lee Keegan in their side, they won't fear it. For Garry, Caolan Crowe and Shane Nally will have to hit top gear.

Verdict: Westport

Mayo SFC Group 2

Ballaghaderren v Hollymount-Carramore

Saturday, May 6 at 7pm in Ballaghaderreen

When they won their first round game against Ballintubber last year in the shock of that weekend, Hollymount-Carramore looked like they could make a dent in the senior ranks in their first year back up. But as the rest of the group stages panned out they ended up in the relegation battle, but they are back for another crack at it again this year. Castlebar Mitchels and Knockmore have put them to the sword in the league already this season and they were pipped by a point by Davitts in their other league game, sending them into this one in not great form. It's not been much better for Ballagh who have just one point to their name, thanks to a draw against Garrymore, with both Knockmore and Claremorris seeing them off already in the league, but their pedigree could see them over the line in this one.

Verdict: Ballaghaderreen

Breaffy v Davitts

Saturday, May 6 at 7.30pm in Breaffy

The meeting of these two sides in the championship over the past few years has become almost as regular as Christmas and they meet again this year on the opening weekend. Breaffy have been impressive in their start to the league with three wins from three against Garrymore, Claremorris and Charlestown and will come into the game in full confidence. They have been there or thereabouts in recent years making two county finals, but not really performing in either of those and they won't want to see another chance slip away. Davitts will be tough as they always are in championship action and come into the game on the back of a high scoring draw against Ballintubber to back up their narrow win over Hollymount-Carramore in the league. But at home, Breaffy might be too strong for them this time around.

Verdict: Breaffy

Mayo SFC Group 3

Ballintubber v Kiltane

Saturday, May 6 at 7pm in Ballintubber

It's difficult to see how a side who haven't got a manager in place are going to take down one of the big guns in the senior championship on their own patch, but that is exactly what Kiltane are looking to do tomorrow night. Ballintubber were held by Davitts last time out in the league, but they have as formidable an attacking line up as you'll find in the game with Alan Dillon, Cillian and Diarmuid O'Connor to lead the way for them, while Jason Gibbons, Michael Plunkett and Danny Geraghaty aren't short of what's needed at this level. Kiltane also are coming into this one playing a division lower in the league and have already been beaten twice, with Moy Davitts and Ballina taking points off them. On the road this one could be a tough one for the north Mayo men.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Claremorris v Aghamore

Sunday, May 7 at 4pm in Claremorris

These teams met in the first round of the league and Claremorris surprised many by coming on out top in 3-11 to 4-7 in Aghamore. If Sunday's meeting of these sides is as good as that there is really only one show in town to go to. Since then Claremorris have been beaten by Breaffy and seen off Ballagahderren, while Aghamore have run through both Charlestown and Crossmolina for fun, hitting eight goals against the Deel Rovers. Claremorris will be hoping that their successful underage structures start bringing through players ready to step up to this level to give help to the likes of James Shaugnessy in attack. Aghamore have shown flashes of potential of being able to challenge the big teams at this level in recent years and will be looking to drive it on again a bit more this year. With Alan Freeman, Fergal Boland, and Brendan Harrision on form they could take the points from this one.

Verdict: Aghamore

Mayo SFC Group 4

Crossmolina v Castlebar Mitchels

Saturday, May 6 at 7pm in Crossmolina

The big question before this weekend starts at all is, can anyone stop Castlebar Mitchels from making it three in a row. Crossmolina Deel Rovers are going to be the first side to have a cut at them this year in the championship and it doesn't look like they will be the ones to derail their three-in-a-row attempt. After seeing off Davitts in round one of the league, Ballintubber and Aghamore have both beaten them and put a combined 11 goals past them in those two games. If any side smells blood and goes for it, it's Castlebar Mitchels. Everyone knows the quality and depth of this Mitchels squad at the minute and the work-rate they bring to every game, and it looks like this one will only go one way. Crossmolina do have quality themselves with the likes of Cathal Carolan, Fionan Duffy and Conor Loftus all serious operators, but Mitchels will expose any weak link in their opposition with relish.

Verdict: Castlebar Mitchels

Ballinrobe v Ballina

Sunday, May 7 at 4pm in Ballinrobe

This group saw the exact same teams pulled out of bowl for the second year in a row and Ballinrobe will be hoping that their round one meting with Ballina at home turns out a bit different that it did last year, when the north Mayo men ran out 16 point winners. Both of these teams are playing in the second tier of league football in the county and have had contrasting starts to the league season, with Ballina winning three from three and Ballinrobe having lost two of their opening three league games. With Castlebar expected to clinch the top spot in this group, the winners of this game will give themselves a real good chance of claiming second spot and a place in the last eight. Ballina on paper look to have what it takes to win this one, but Ballinrobe will look to dig in there and make it tough for the visitors.

Verdict: Ballina

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