Moy Davitts were crowned county intermediate champions after a dramatic replay victory against neighbours Kiltimagh last Saturday evening in Elverys McHale Park. In a pulsating contest that ebbed and flowed, Pat Clarke’s charges won the spoils after scoring a goal and a point in the final minutes snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for Kiltimagh who soldiered so well in the second half despite being down to 14 men and five points in arrears at the interval. They regrouped and took the game to Moy Davitts in that second half going three points in front in a real display of grit and character. Games of this importance are won by big plays and James Mulderrig's equalising late goal followed by Sean Kelly's match winning point will go down in Moy Davitts' folklore. I have no doubt after a night of celebrations it was back to the grindstone on Monday for the winners as they are straight at it again this weekend taking on Michael Glavey's of Roscommon this Sunday in the Connacht semifinal, again in Elvery's McHale Park. This represents a big opportunity for Moy Davitts as they strive to follow in the footsteps of Westport last year winning the Provincial intermediate title.
Mayo sides have big chances this weekend in Connacht championship
In what is a big weekend for Mayo clubs who coincidentally all have home games in Castlebar, it is the Mitchels who are up first when they take on Leitrim champions Mohill on Saturday in the senior quarterfinal. Complacency is the only thing that will get in their way of qualifying for a semifinal against Tourlestrane of Sligo. Castlebar are priced at an unbackable1/50 to win this game insinuating Mohill have no chance, I tend to agree. The draw is somewhat kind to Castlebar this year keeping Roscommon kingpins St Brigids and 2016 All-Ireland club champions Corofin on the other side. Junior champions Lahardane will have their work cut out against Galway champions St Gabriels, but I suspect under the guidance of John Maughan they will have fitness levels they have never experienced before and will feel nothing is beyond them. As long as Moy Davitts stopped celebrating on Monday I expect to see a clean sweep for all the Mayo clubs.
Just when you think Cora Staunton cannot get any better
We thought Cora Staunton could not command many more headlines after becoming the first Irish woman to sign a professional contract when she pinned an agreement with the Great Western Sydney Giants, and then she goes out and scores a massive 4-13 (yes you read that right ), 4-13, for Carnacon in the Connacht Ladies' Club final against Kilkerrin/Clonberne last weekend. Despite it being such a huge score it is not the first time she has achieved such a feat as she amassed the same tally against Leitrim in the Connacht championship in 2009. Amazingly Carnacon and Kilkerrin/Clonberne still finished level and have to do it all again this weekend. It has to be another first, scoring so much and still not being on the winning team. I suspect Kilkerrin/Clonberne may try to double or triple team her for the replay.
Next years championship already has people talking
There seems to be widespread confusion from the ordinary man on the street regarding the Super Eight championship for 2018 but it can be explained very simply. Basically the eight teams that normally qualify for the quarterfinals go into two groups of four and play each other once. The four Provincial winners along with the winners of the games between the Provincial losers and the round three qualifiers are the teams that will make up the Super 8. You get one home game, one away game, and one game at a neutral venue. This league format replaces the quarterfinals as we know it with the top two teams from the two Super Eight groups making the semifinal. Interestingly the semifinals have been fixed for the week after the last group game, not allowing much time for recuperating. So should Mayo lose to Galway for the third consecutive year in next year's quarterfinal they will have to play a lot of football to make it back to the All-Ireland final. They would have to navigate their way through a difficult qualifier route as they did this year but instead of having a quarterfinal against Roscommon (like they did in 2017 ) the Super Eight format kicks in. If Mayo win next year's Connacht final they will be pitted in their Super Eight group with the Munster winners along with the winners of the games between the Ulster and Leinster losers or a third round qualifier winner. This part has already been predetermined. Using 2017 results as an example, should Mayo win the Connacht championship in 2018 they would be in a group with Kerry, Armagh, and Monaghan (Monaghan and Armagh beat Down and Kildare who were the Ulster and Leinster final losers ). Although Mayo gained momentum in 2017 through the qualifiers I feel with the Super Eight format the direct route is the only way to go next season plus you would guarantee to avoid having Dublin in your Super Eight group, presuming they win Leinster of course.