All to play for as the championship throws-in

Group One

Castlebar Mitchels v Ballina Stephenites

Saturday April 7 at 6pm

Ballina sprang a surprise last year when they beat Mitchels in the final round of group games, but Mitchels were already in the last eight and they went on to win a third Moclair Cup in a row.

Mitchels will be expecting to hit the ground running as they go for four-in-a-row, and after winning their two league games to date including a two point win after a ding-dong battle with local rivals Breaffy last weekend they have started the year very well.

James Durcan lit up that league game last weekend and they have a squad full of quality that will be hard to stop.

Ballina have lost their opening two league games including a four point loss to Ballintubber last weekend after going down to Aghamore at home the week before. Welcoming the defending champions to their home patch is something they will relish and will give it a good go, but they will probably not have enough.

Verdict: Castlebar

Ballaghaderreen v Aghamore

Sunday April 8 at 2pm

Aghamore will head to Ballagh for this local derby in great form having won their two opening league games, seeing off decent opposition in both.

They opened their league season with a win over Ballina and followed it up with a three point win over Knockmore at home last Saturday evening, with Fergal Boland hitting 0-4, Ross Egan and Alan Freeman 1-1 out of their total of 1-12.

The home side are playing out of division two this season and head into this weekend's championship outing with one win and one loss to their name so far, they saw off junior championship side Balla last time out having gone down to intermediate championship hopefuls Ballinrobe in round one.

But with Andy Moran, David Drake, Shaoiroze Akram, Seamus Cunniffe, and Cian Hanley they have plenty of quality.

Verdict: Aghamore

Group Two

Charlestown v Knockmore

Saturday April 7 at 6pm

When these two sides met in the opening round of the championship last season, it was one of the games of the year ending in 2-10 to 2-10 draw.

The home side have got off to a poor start to this year's league campaign going down in their opening two games to Castlebar Mitchels and Claremorris. Last weekend's meeting with Claremorris saw them come out on the wrong side of a 3-7 to 0-8 defeat. Jack Reilly will be their main threat up front, while Tom Parsons and Gary O'Donnell will be looking to get a foothold in the middle of the park.

Knockmore come into this one on the back of a 1-12 to 0-12 loss against Aghamore, but championship football is what they live for in Knockmore. Last season they reached the last eight where they were unlucky to come up against a Castlebar Mitchels side who surprisingly had ended up in second place in their group.

They saw off Kitimagh with ease in round one of the league and with Kevin McLoughlin driving them on with Peter Naughton and Colm Reape in attack they will be favourites to take the points in this one.

Verdict: Knockmore

Moy Davitts v Garrymore

Sunday April 8 at 3pm

Last year's intermediate champions will welcome senior football back to Foxford on Sunday when Garrymore come to town.

The visitors really put it up to Castlebar in last year's semi-final, bringing them to a replay before Mitchels' strength in depth shone through in the replay. The south Mayo men have been really consistent in reaching the latter stages of the championship over the past few years.

They have started the year in impressive style, winning two from two in the league seeing off Crossmolina and Hollymount-Carramore in style and racking up an impressive tally of 5-30 over those two outings.

Winning the intermediate title in dramatic style last year is a high the home side will hope they can ride into championship this year. They have started off with one win and one defeat in division two of the league.

They were well beaten by Westport at home in round one of the league, but they got back on track with a two point win over Ardnaree last weekend, but Garrymore will probably have too much guile and experience for them at this level.

Verdict: Garrymore

Group Three

Crossmolina Deel Rovers v Westport

Sunday April 8 at 2pm

The away side on Sunday is one team everyone is keeping an eye on this year.

James Horan has come in as manager this term and having won All Ireland intermediate glory last year, this is the year that Westport can really make a splash back with the big boys after just about holding on to their status last season.

The loss of Lee Keegan will be a big hole for Westport to fill, but Horan will have been working on a plan to counteract that since the former footballer of the year went down in Mayo's clash with Tyrone.

Crossmolina are a side you do not want to write off, they have a history and tradition that is second to none, even if they have had a fallow time in recent years. They have scorers in the likes of Conor Loftus and Fionan Duffy who have the potential to poke holes in any defence.

Verdict: Westport

Hollymount-Carramore v Claremorris

Saturday April 7 at 6pm

This south Mayo derby has the makings of a real cracker.

The home side have plenty of issues they are looking to deal with off the field, while the visitors will be looking to make sure last season's semi-final appearance is not a flash-in-the pan.

Claremorris have hit the ground running this season, winning two from two in the league, hitting 3-7 against Charlestown last weekend to follow up a massive 2-13 to 0-4 win over Crossmolina Deel Rovers on the road in round one.

The hosts are currently winless in the league losing out in a high scoring encounter against Kiltimagh last weekend and going down by seven points at home to near neighbours Garrymore in round one.

Verdict: Claremorris

Group Four

Davitts V Ballintubber

Saturday April 7 at 4pm

There is nothing easy ever taken away from Ballindine when it comes to championship.

On paper the visitors should be comfortable winners in this one, but Davitts are going to give everything they have to put it up to their guests on Saturday afternoon.

Ballintubber have won one and lost one in the league this season, they went down to Breaffy in round one, but followed that up with a win at home against Ballina last weekend with Alan Dillon pulling the strings and finishing up with eight points from their total of 0-14.

Davitts are playing a division below their opponents in the league and they also have a one and one record from their opening two games, seeing off Belmullet in round one on the odd scoreline of 2-4 to 0-6. Last weekend they were beaten by two by Islandeady, but they will be looking to hit Ballintubber with everything they have from the get go.

Verdict: Ballintubber

Breaffy v Kiltane

Sunday April 8 at 2pm

This is another one that on paper has the look of having only one way the result will go.

Breaffy will still be hurting with exiting the championship at the last eight stage last year, they did get some joy by claiming the league title - but after being one of the nearly men over the last few years, it is all about championship for them.

They saw off Ballintubber in round one of the league at home a fortnight ago, but they went down by two points last weekend against Castlebar Mitchels after a really entertaining and engrossing encounter.

Kiltane are playing in division two in the league and they head into Sunday's game with two wins from two seeing off Shrule-Glencorrib and Kiltane and in the process scoring 6-24.

The home side with the likes of the the three O'Sheas, Mattie Ruane, Rob Hennelly, and James Minogue in their ranks will probably have too much for the north Mayo men.

Verdict: Breaffy


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