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The champions Castlebar Mitchels got their defence of the Moclair Cup off to a winning start with a 15 point win, running out 2-18 to 1-6 over Ballina Stephenites on Saturday night in group one of the Mayo Senior Football Championship.
It all comes down to next Sunday for Mayo.
The shadow boxing and experimenting has come to a close, with the end of the FBD League last Sunday for Mayo. This weekend Mayo will make the trip to Clones in the reverse fixture of last year's National Football League opener which was won by the Farney county men in MacHale Park. The top division in the National Football League is a high intensity environment — Mayo want to hit the ground running and they will be targeting a win in this game.
If only we could see these two sides go toe-to-toe in the height of summer, rather than in the gloom of November with a constant mist seeping into the bones of those in action on the field and the hardy souls in the stands.
Castlebar Mitchels renew acquaintances with Corofin in the Connachht Club final this Sunday in Tuam in what promises to be a mouth watering clash. Both teams know each other very well at this stage having crossed paths three times in the last number of years. Corofin needing extra-time last year to beat Castlebar in MacHale Park. Coincidently Mitchels have beaten the Galway kingpins twice in Tuam in what were rip-roaring encounters. Neither team seems to be at the level that they were a number of years ago, but they are still very evenly matched.
There has been little time for rest for Castlebar Mitchels since the club scene swung back into action in recent weeks, they had last weekend off after their win over Ballintubber in the county final - but come tomorrow afternoon it is back to business as they welcome Leitrim champions Mohill to MacHale Park with a place in the semi-final of the Connacht championship up for grabs.
Title number 31 for Castlebar Mitchels will be one that will be remembered for a long time in the county town, it was their first three-in-a-row since the mid 1950s and it also saw them beat their most recent nemesis Ballintubber in the final for the first time after their near neighbours had beaten them in their three previous final meetings in 2010, 2011 and 2014.
The Mayo GAA season kept moving this weekend with the semi-finals in both the senior and intermediate championships, a number of relegation games and some league deciders taking place over a hectic 30 hours or so between Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening.
After Wednesday night's win for Ballintubber over Hollymount-Carramore, we now know the four sides who will be competing in Sunday's semi-finals of the Mayo senior football championship. Defending champions Castlebar Mitchels still look the team to beat after their win over last year's finalists Knockmore. They haven't hit full tilt yet but they are still the leading lights in the county at the minute, but their opponents on Sunday Garrymore will have plenty to say about it before the game is over in MacHale Park.
Sometimes it’s not about being the better team, it’s about finding ways to win games when you are probably second best on the day. Dublin were able to do that, they were able to get themselves over the line right at the end when it mattered most and they claimed their third All Ireland title in a row.