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Semi-final spots up for grabs this weekend

Elvery’s MacHale Park is the place to be this weekend, when the best eight senior club teams in the county do battle for a place in the semi-finals of this year’s club championship.

‘Mobile Holmes’ had the Mitchels very mobile last week

Castlebar Mitchels county champions 2013 has a nice ring to it particularly if you are from the county town. The Mitchels won with a bit to spare, however they did their level best to keep us on the edge of our seats giving Breaffy a glimmer of hope with some wayward shooting, they did not put this game to bed until the 56th minute despite being so comfortable. When you are only a goal up there is always a chance your opponents could sneak in against the run of play. It is hard to believe it is 20 years since Castlebar won the Moclair Cup. Little did Tom Reilly know when he captained them back in 1993 he would have two sons playing against each other in a county final. I could still nearly name the Castlebar team that claimed that crown.

Mitchels take home the prize

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Castlebar Mitchels 1-11

Castlebar hold the aces if they can quell Breaffy’s midfield

All roads lead to Castlebar on Sunday for Mayo’s showcase football final. The proximity of the two clubs with brothers and cousins being on opposite teams makes it intriguing to say the least. Barry Moran being fit for the Mitchels is a must to combat the power of the O’Shea brothers. I expect Castlebar to have the resources to shut out the threat of Alan Durcan, Liam Irwin, and co, and don’t expect them to get the same freedom they were afforded in the semi-final win over Charlestown. However Breaffy have a mean back line themselves and a very hard working half forward line to boot. I still think Castlebar hold the aces up front, and in Neil Douglas, Neil Lydon, and Richie Feeney they have three top drawer forwards. It is simple, the mid field battle decides who wins the game. If Castlebar break even in the middle their superior forward line will see them through. The bookies see this as a foregone conclusion, I am not so sure it’s that straightforward. Castlebar at 10/11 to start at -2 is the bet of the weekend.

Bringing it all back home

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The dividing lines are fluid when it comes to the boundary, fluid enough to see two brothers togging out for opposing teams on Sunday, but one thing that is not fluid is the desire of both Castlebar Mitchels and Breaffy to take home the Paddy Moclair Cup with them on Sunday evening. Both of this year’s finalists have got there on merit, one was expected to be still standing here, while the others dusted themselves off after heavy defeat to the other in the group stages and have battled back to show their true worth.

It was not pretty, but neither Castlebar or Breaffy will mind

The two hot favourites rightfully claimed their place in the county senior football final to be played on October 28. In the opening game Breaffy easily disposed of Charlestown in a poor encounter. The Charlestown team started lively but after the 15th minute the two O’Shea brothers took over at midfield with Alan Durcan and Liam Irwin benefiting the most with both of them scoring some fine points from play. Charlestown will be very disappointed the way they surrendered this game without any real fight. They looked to have lacked any idea and invention, very often having to rely on a hopeful ball into first Paul and then Anthony Mulligan in the second half.

Breaffy book a date with Castlebar in senior final

It'll be hard to find a county final that will have as close of neighbors going toe-toe in it, and have two brothers lining up in opposite colours (Tommy O'Reilly for Breaffy and Eoghan O'Reilly for Castlebar), but that's what this years Mayo senior football championship final has in store in a fortnight's time. Breaffy booked their very first appearance int he final with a historic win over Charlestown, while Castlebar Mitchels overcame Knockmore, despite being without the services of their man-of-the-match from last weeks quarter-final win over Ballina Stephenites ,Barry Moran and losing Aidan Walsh early in the game through injury. Mitchels beat Breaffy comprehensively in the group stages of the championship back in early summer, but Declan O'Reilly's have inflicted a defeat on Pat Holmes' side this year with a win in the opening league game of the season.

A weekend of ups and downs and big performances

I thought it impossible to see anything more bizarre than having to overtake an NYPD car on my way to MacHale Park last Sunday but just before the start of the Ballintubber/Knockmore county quarter final something else surpassed that. While I was watching the Ballintubber warm up to see if I could spot Cillian O’Connor ( to see if he was togged) I noticed a commotion in the middle of the field with all medical personnel running towards the place where Knockmore just had their team picture taken.

The final four showdown this weekend

It was a weekend for shocks and surprises last weekend as the two teams who have won the last three Moclair cups between them bowed out at the quarter-final stage. The biggest surprise of the weekend arguably was Breaffy’s victory over Ballaghaderreen in the first of Sunday’s games.

Champions tumble out over quarter-finals weekend

It was a weekend for surprises in Elverys MacHale Park in the Treanlaur Catering Senior Football Championship, with the defending champions Ballaghaderreen and the winners of the previous two titles Ballintubber both bowing out of championship at the quarter-final stage. The final of the last eight ties got off to a dramatic start, with most eyes during the warm up trying to see was Cillian O’Connor going to play any part in the game, then suddenly Knockmore’s Aiden Kilcoyne had to be stretchered off the field before a ball had even been kicked in anger. The All Ireland u21 winner, when running away from the team photograph did something to his knee in his run towards the warm up and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher, in some discomfort. It wasn’t the start that Nigel Reape would have been hoping for, but his charges, knuckled down without their marquee forward and tore into Peter Ford’s Ballintubber side. The main man in the clash was Declan Sweeney who rolled back the years with a performance for the ages in the full-forward position. He ran Cathal Hallinan ragged all day, and Hallinan didn’t have a particularly bad game and was the key difference between the sides. Knockmore were leading by 0-3 to 0-2 after ten minutes, when Ballintubber hit the first goal of the game to push themselves into the lead. Padraic O’Connor dropped the ball into the danger area and Knockmore goalkeeper Andrew Higgins didn’t cover himself in glory as the ball spilled loose and a combination of Alan Plunkett and Damien McGing combined to force the ball over the line from close range. But Knockmore weren’t going to bend the knee easily and 14 minutes later they pushed themselves back into a 0-8 to 1-3 lead thanks to points from Kieran Langan, Andrew Keane, Tom Clarke and a brace from Declan Sweeney. The north Mayo men tagged on two more points before the break through Kevin McLoughlin and they had the bit between their teeth at the turn around and headed for the dressing room leading 0-10 to 1-3. Diarmuid O’Connor opened the scoring in the second half with a fine point a minute in, but two minutes later the definitive moment of the game arrived when Knockmore bagged their only goal of the contest. Shane McHale who put in a top-class shift in around the middle third hit an effort for a point that came back off the post and Darren McHale was the quickest to react to the rebound a drove the ball high to the roof of Brendan Walsh’s net to put Reape’s side into a six point lead. But Ballintubber were not throwing in the towel just yet and they reeled off four points without reply in the next ten minutes to close the gap to just two points. Padraic O’Connor kicked three frees and Jason Gibbons added the other from distance. The game looked to be ebbing back towards the west Mayo men, but this was going to be Knockmore’s day and two pointed frees from Kieran Langan sandwiched other efforts from Stephen Sweeney and Kevin McLoughlin stretched their lead out to six points with ten minutes to go. Ballintubber went looking for goals at the end and they couldn’t dig themselves out of this one and Knockmore toughed it out at the end to win by 1-15 to 1-10.

 

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