“Kiltane have been a bit of a surprise package this year but have earned their place in the latter stages..”
By a Mayo Club fotballer
WITH the exception of the five-team Section A in the Senior Championship, the group stages of the Senior and Intermediate concluded last weekend. By this stage most teams now know their fate for the rest of the championship.
With that in mind, your columnist is going to take you on a whistle-stop tour of what happened where, and what it means in term of the overall picture.
Section A reaches its climax next weekend with Crossmolina entertaining Breaffy in a ‘winner takes all’ game and Garrymore travelling to Ballaghderreen where they will endeavour to get their first points in the championship this year. If they don’t they will enter a relegation play-off.
County champions Crossmolina had an eight point victory over Garrymore last Saturday evening and will hope that the excellent form of Brian Benson and Joe Keane will continue next weekend against a pacy and well-balanced Breaffy team. With players like Kevin Scahill, Eddie Conroy and Barry Jordan minding the house at the back, a midfield pairing of Finin Canavan and Mayo U-21 star Seamus O’Shea, and an attack which will include Marty McNicholas, Alan Durcan and Colum Lyons, don’t be surprised by an upset here.
Ballagh’ scraped a one point win against Ballinrobe who also ran Crossmolina very close earlier in their campaign, and with a bit of luck the ‘Robe could have been eying a quarter-final spot. But they will be content with a mid-table finish in the group and the easing of relegation fears.
Ballina had a six point winning margin over Castlebar with Ronan McGarrity, bringing his excellent form for the county team with him, superb in the middle of the field. Paul McGarry and Adrian Kelly were also very industrious for the Stephenites men up front. Tommy Lyons’ team are mounting their challenge – the rest beware. In the other game in this group a tight and tough West Mayo derby was won by Burrishoole who had just one point to spare over Westport.
George Golden’s team will now be under intense pressure for the rest of the season as they have yet to win any game in the league or championship, and survival in Division 1 as well as maintaining senior championship status is the priority. Neighbours Knockmore and Moy Davitts played out a tense final group game on Saturday night in Foxford. The men from the Parish of the Backs were on the right side of a two point victory with Aiden Kilcoyne notching up 1-2.
Before the game Moy Davitts would have known that a win would put them into the quarter finals and that a defeat would mostly likely leave them mid table. Now a surprise win for Kiltimagh over a Charlestown team missing several regulars means that a play-off to avoid the relegation stage of the championship will now be needed for Michael Ruane’s charges.
In the other section a draw between Shrule Glencorrib and Claremorris was enough to see Declan Ronaldson’s men go through to the last eight where they will be joined by Kiltane after they had six points to spare over Louisburgh. Kiltane have been a bit of a surprise package this year but have earned their place in the latter stages of the championship.
MEANWHILE, in the Intermediate Championship a bizarre last six minutes in Ballindine saw Davitts crash out of the competition. Eight points to the good with only six minutes left on the clock, the south Mayo team conceded three goals to Parke to lose by a point; a late free chance was spurned with a draw being enough to see Davitts through. It sounds like a harsh lesson in the ‘it’s never over til the final whistle’ school of thought. Ballintubber are the other team in this group to qualify. Aghamore had an easy win over Ballina B to secure their place in the next round but Hollymount have exited the competition after Cill Chomain defeated them on Sunday last in Glenamoy.
Ballyhaunis and Tourmakeady did a bit of shadow-boxing with both teams having already qualified for the quarter-finals, but a win for Pat Burke’s men leaves them top of their section. In the other remaining section, Belmullet, Swinford and Kilmeena must have a play-off to ascertain who will qualify from their group with all three finishing on the same points.
Last week the senior inter-county team showed that self belief and will to win still count for a lot in the modern game. In a game that has been generally described by the national press as being ‘of poor standard’ Mayo proved it’s not always the bigger dog that wins the fight but rather the dog with bigger appetite for the fight. Mayo will play better football in their next game and Croke Park has been kind to this bunch of players. I feel that a semi-final spot is well within their grasp and the mouth watering proposition of the ‘Dubs’ in the semi-final. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org