Mike Finnerty looks at the teams left in the Moclair Cup race
THE Mitchels hit the ground running and they haven’t stopped since.
Last year’s county final defeat seems to have been forgotten as they strode impressively through their group and Pat Holmes looks determined to end the 18-year famine. Danny Kirby and Aidan Walsh are back from the US and they are the team to beat.
Strengths They believe they are capable of beating anybody.
Weaknesses They believe they are capable of beating anybody.
Injuries Tom King is out for the season with a knee injury. Niall Lydon and Seánie Ryder are nursing slight hamstring problems.
Key man Barry Moran gives them options in two key areas.
New kid David Joyce has returned from his travels to boost the attack.
On the line A mixture of youth and experience. And ‘Horse’ Nolan.
Title odds 6/4
JUST two defeats in their last 35 matches will tell you all you need to know about their winning habit of recent seasons. The county champions have become extremely hard to beat and you can’t put a price on that self-belief.
Anthony McGarry hasn’t changed too much so the question is, how badly do the players want it again?
Strengths They’ve learned how to win games ugly.
Weaknesses It’s been a while since they had a break.
Injuries Ruadhrí O’Connor will be sorely missed from now on.
Key man Alan Dillon. The man who makes it all happen.
New kid Danny Geraghty has blossomed at centre-back.
On the line Anthony McGarry has made himself at home.
Title odds 9/4
HERE they are again.
The quarter-final specialists have made it this far despite slipping up on the opening day in Bangor, and without setting the world on fire since either.
It’s been 14 years since the Moclair Cup last resided in their clubhouse but you should dismiss Kevin O’Neill and company at your peril.
Strengths They have two top-class finishers in their full-forward line.
Weaknesses Question marks remain over their ball-winning ability.
Injuries Declan Sweeney, their enforcer, has broken his wrist.
Key man Trevor Howley has become the team’s driving force.
New kid Former county minor Brian Ruttledge has made the step-up.
On the line Ray Dempsey and Dessie Ruttledge have little left to learn.
Title odds 4/1
THE whole county is wondering what the story was with Ballagh’s 0-17 defeat against Castlebar in their last group game and their indifferent form in earlier games.
We think they have been aiming to peak at this stage of the game and, if they get over next weekend, they will go close.
Strengths They can run up big scores in a short space of time.
Weaknesses They can switch off in games for long spells.
Injuries Michael Solan (knee) is back on the treatment table.
Key man Andy Moran makes them tick and calls the shots.
New kid Cormac Doohan has pace to burn and scores goals.
On the line Kieran Gallagher won’t get flustered and looks the part.
Title odds 5/1
THE group stages didn’t exactly go to plan for the Deel Rovers but they got the job done. A succession of injuries (and the loss of Seán Kelly and Ian Rowland, who has now returned from America) also robbed them of some key staff.
John Maughan will have his work cut out to go all the way this year.
Strengths They have a lot of experience and won’t panic.
Weaknesses Injuries have disrupted their preparations.
Injuries Mark Leonard (knee) looks set for a spell on the sidelines.
Key man Ciaran McDonald pulls the strings from midfield now.
New kid Jonathan O’Boyle has matured into a decent defender.
On the line Mayo’s answer to Jose Mourinho.
Title odds 6/1
LAST year’s narrow defeat against the eventual county champions still rankles some Stephenites and their recent dismissal of Claremorris was a sign that they mean business again.
If everybody stays fit, the 2005 All-Ireland club champions will give anybody a game. Whether they can win a shoot-out though remains to be seen.
Strengths They have a lot of talent up the middle.
Weaknesses They can struggle to run up scores against organised teams.
Injuries David Clarke (knee ligaments) is out of action for the moment.
Key man Ronan McGarrity dictates the pace from the engine-room.
New kid Mayo minor Evan Regan is a nightmare for corner-backs.
On the line John Healy looks set to be found in goal next weekend.
Title odds 6/1
EVERYTHING was going to plan until their defeat to Knockmore and that will have raised some doubts about Breaffy’s ability to beat a big gun when the chips are down.
They play an attractive brand of football and winning possession is never usually a problem. However, the time has come to win a quarter-final and push on.
Strengths They possess an inter-county midfield pairing.
Weaknesses They haven’t won a knock-out battle yet.
Injuries A knee injury has ruled out Marty McNicholas.
Key man One of the O’Sheas. Take your pick.
New kid Another O’Shea, Conor. Maybe the best of them!
On the line Another O’Shea, Jim. And JD is back too.
Title odds 8/1
SIX years after playing their part in a cracking county final, the South Mayo lads find themselves halfway up the mountain again.
Last year’s semi-final defeat was a massive disappointment and new manager, Ger Butler, has tried to shake things up a little. Conor Mortimer is back but they will be up against it.
Strengths Nobody is expecting too much from them.
Weaknesses They haven’t been scoring freely recently.
Injuries Trevor Mortimer’s quad is the only concern.
Key man Mark Ronaldson is now the team’s play-maker.
New kid Conor O’Dowd is another tenacious defender.
On the line Ger Butler won’t get hot and bothered.
Title odds 12/1