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The first weekend of the Mayo GAA senior championship had a little bit of everything including one side lining up their entire 15 players in their own half for the start of the second half of their game, a heroic struggle between Mayo men Aidan O’Shea and Colm Boyle against each other for the pride of the parish, the return of Cillian O’Connor to action for Ballintubber and late, late fight back from Kiltane to break the hearts of Shrule-Glencorrib who made the long trip to Bangor.
A two goal first half salvo from Aidan O’Shea inspired Breaffy to their first win in the Mayo GAA Senior Football League this season as they saw off local rivals Castlebar Mitchels in Munnelly Park in Castlebar on Sunday. Both sides lined out with out key players for this contest with Seamus O’Shea serving a one match suspension for Breaffy after being dismissed early in their loss to Ballintubber a fortnight ago, while for Castlebar Mitchels neither Tom Cunniffe or Patrick Durcan were available for selection.
Goals win games and there was no recovering from the two goals they shipped inside the opening ten minutes for Castlebar Mitchels on Sunday in MacHale Park.
There were 16 teams when it started out, but only four remain as the semi-finals of the Mayo GAA senior football championship are down for decision in Elverys MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon.
The first half of Sunday's All Ireland quarter final between Mayo and Cork, will have long faded into the memory bank by the time the Mayo's meeting with Kerry comes around, but the second half is one that the fat will be chewed over a lot in the next 21 days. The first half was a bitty and often ill tempered affair where Mayo struggled to break down, Cork's blanket defence and the sides went in level at eight points each. Mayo ran down closed off avenues and their foot passing into their full forward line was wasn't sticking as Cork smothered the Mayo attack like jam on a warm slice of bread.
As we expected Cork are our opponents for Sunday’s All-Ireland Quarter final which promises to be a great day out for Mayo Fans albeit a long day. The minors take centre stage at 12 noon followed by the seniors at 4pm. I have heard rumblings as to why the Mayo senior game couldn’t be on at 2pm, so Mayo fans wouldn’t have to spend the best part of six hours in Croke Parke. It would have been the correct course of action, imagine someone from Belmullet going to support the minors, leaving at 7am on Sunday morning and probably not getting home until the early hours. I don’t envy them, however beggars can’t be choosers and we should be delighted the minors are getting at least one game at headquarters. Last year the minor quarter final against Westmeath was played on bank holiday Monday in Tullamore, most Mayo fans won’t be present for the start of the minor game anyway as happened in Castlebar for the Connacht Final. I personally can’t wait and will watch every second of every game.
In a repeat of last years county final Breaffy and Castlebar met in round two of the Mayo GAA SFL league in Breaffy on Saturday night and it was the hosts who came out on top with a 2-13 to 0-7 win over their neighbors. The visitors lined up without Richie Feeney and Barry Moran at their services, while Breaffy weren't able to call on Seamus O'Shea who picked up a knock in their defeat against Ballintubber the previous week.
Defending senior county champions Castlebar Mitchels got their league campaign off to a winning start on Saturday evening in Josie Munnelly Park with a 2-12 to 0-10 win over Charlestown Sarsfields. Mitchels place kicker Aidan Walsh was the top man on the scoreboard at the end of the day with seven points (two in the first half and five in the second) over the hour. Danny Kirby chipped in with two goals for Mitchels, one in either half, the second one from the penalty spot. Mitchels went in at the break leading by 1-6 to 0-5 with Colm Maye kicking five points for Charlestown in reply to Mitchels opening salvo which saw Richie Feeney kick two points in the first 30 minutes with Cian Costello and James Durcan also getting in on the act. Kirby's second half penalty killed off the challenge of the visitors who kept their scoreboard ticking over with scores from Gareth O'Donnell and Maye to keep the gap down to eight points at the end. Next up for the county champions is a short trip to Breaffy next Saturday evening for a repeat of last years county final.
Castlebar Mitchels defender Alan Feeney was full of praise for victors in Monday's All Ireland club final, but at the same time said he believed he and his team-mates didn't live up to their abilities on the day. “Gutted, I don't think we preformed to our full potential today which is kinda disappointing, but at the same time Vincent's we're very strong and on the day they were the better team and the better team won, so we can't make any gripes about it.”
When 42 minutes into the contest Danny Kirby reacted quickest to a Neil Douglas shot coming back off the post and he drove the ball past Michael Savage from close range, Castlebar Mitchels believed it was going to be their day in Croke Park. Kirby's goal put his side into a 1-11 to 2-7 lead and looked to have Vincent's rattled. But less than a minute later, the Dublin side won a free out on the Cusack Stand side of the field. Tomas Quinn was making his way over to have a crack at the posts, but his team-mate Tiernan Diamond decided to launch a quick one into the the Mitchels penalty area the ball bounced and evaded the grasp of Ciarán Dorney, but unfortunately for Castlebar, Diarmuid Connolly was following in behind and was able to palm the ball past the reach of Ciaran Naughton in the Mitchels goal, to put Vincent's back in front and take the wind out of the Mitchels sails. It wasn't the knock-out punch, but it was the one that left Castlebar unsteady on their feet and needing the end of the round to come quickly for them to recover, but it never came and the Marino team and Connolly in particular kept piling on the blows over the next ten minutes. Over that period Connolly kicked another 1-3, which went unanswered by the Mitchels. The Dublin stars second goal saw him run through the heart of the Mitchels defence, get dispossessed yet he was still able to flick the ball back up into his hands with his right boot and in a continuous movement drop the ball to his left boot and fire it past Ciaran Naughton. That was the knock out blow and it was plain sailing for Vincent's from then on to the final whistle even if Danny Kirby did manage to get a second goal for Castlebar just before the end to close the gap a bit.