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Twenty years on from what was one of the most epic battles in Mayo club championship history, when Garrymore and Charlestown engaged in a four game classic in the county senior quarter-final that the south Mayo men finally won after 300 minutes of football, the sides will kick-start their 2015 championship campaigns against each other in Garrymore on Sunday. That series has gone down in folklore in Mayo football and there is even one man who played in that series for Charlestown still lining out today, with Aidan Higgins back for another year with the east Mayo men.
CLG Thuar Mhic Éadaigh is to host the 2015 Mayo GAA Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta finals this year on Saturday March 28 and Sunday March 29. The west Mayo club is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the decision to welcome the other Mayo Gaeltacht clubs will be a central part of that commemoration. Speaking ahead of the comórtas, club secretary Michéal Ó Fhlainn said the competition is one of the most important club tournaments in the country, and that everyone in the parish was looking forward to the Mayo finals at the end of March. He said: “2015 is a milestone year for our club and it is fitting that we commence our celebrations by hosting the Mayo Comórtas finals. The Comórtas Peile competition means an awful lot to our club, to our players, and especially to this very important and vibrant Gaeltacht area, and we will be leaving no stone unturned as we welcome all the other Gaeltacht clubs to the shores of Lough Mask.”
Ballintubber go into their first senior provincial final as underdogs with the bookies, but the men from Clogher will be having no doubts in their own minds that they are up to the task on Sunday.
Another chapter in the glorious rivalry that exists between current Super League champions Ballina Town and pretenders to the crown Westport Utd will be crafted on Sunday in Milebush Park. The FCS Cup presents Ballina Town with an opportunity to resurrect their campaign that has been patchy of late. However they will have their work cut out against the Covies, but they have the necessary tools to get the job done.
We will start this week back at last weeks column. I cannot believe a story written in my column last week got so much national attention. It was liked by almost one thousand people on hoganstand.com, it has been discussed on Newstalk I am told, and has been retweeted by several players including Colm Parkinson, the former Laois star. Lots of footballers were tagged to the article on Facebook as it reminded so many of players who would not take no for an answer when told they were not part of a panel. I did not see that coming.
Oh to have a crystal ball to see what fortunes lie ahead for Mayo football in 2014. One thing for sure, one Mayo club — Kiltane have a superb chance to claim one of the early pieces of silverware when they take on Truagh of Monaghan in the All-Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park on February 9, a feat my own club Charlestown should have accomplished last season but for some calamitous decisions when they were coasting against eventual winners Cookstown of Tyrone in the All- Ireland semi final. Kiltane were simply brilliant last Sunday. If you were to tell me before the game that star attacker Mikey Sweeney and Tommy “Goals” Conroy were not going to score against Clyda Rovers, I would have re-mortgaged the house on Clyda.
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.