BIG OPPORTUNITY Westport under-21 football manager Pat Holmes is bidding to lead the West Mayo club to their first ever Mayo Under-21 ‘A’ football championship title next weekend. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
NEXT Saturday evening’s Mayo Under-21 ‘A’ football championship final is not only an opportunity for Westport and Belmullet to be crowned county ‘A’ champions for the very first time, but it’s also a chance for some players to impress Stephen Rochford ahead of the FBD League in January.
Next weekend’s decider will be the second time these two teams have met in this campaign, with Belmullet winning by a point in what was the Group 2 decider.
After progressing as table-toppers, the North Mayo lads downed Balla in the quarter-final and then eased past Castlebar Mitchels impressively last Sunday.
On the other hand, Pat Holmes’ Westport needed a replay to get past a stubborn Knockmore side before outclassing a highly-rated Claremorris last weekend in the semi-final.
On paper, this looks an intriguing contest with no shortage of talent on show.
Belmullet boast four Mayo Under-21s from this year in Scott Kilker, Eoin O’Donoghue, Ryan O’Donoghue and James Kelly.
Liam Lavelle’s side also contains former Sligo Rovers star and Mayo minor, Gary Boylan, whose performances of late have him in line for a potential call-up to the Mayo senior set-up.
Westport possess a relatively young side for the grade, but have a serious attacking outfit with pace to burn and an eye for the posts.
Oísin McLaughlin, Fionn McDonagh, Paul Lambert, Colm Moran, Killian Kilkelly and Alan Kennedy will make life difficult for the Belmullet rearguard, and that area of the field could very well be the winning and losing of the game.
Belmullet opt for a more defensive system as compared to the hard-running, quick ball style Westport adopt.
Don’t be surprised to see Niall ‘Glue’ McManamon moved from centre-back into a man-marking role on Gary Boylan either, that is of course if Boylan is fit to play having limped off with a hamstring injury five minutes from full-time last Sunday.
Westport have never won an under-21 ‘A’ title in their club’s history, and the last final they contested was against Ballintubber in 2008, when Pat Holmes was also at the helm.
Fine margins will tip the scale in this one. Westport to win by a point or two.
Mayo U-21 ‘A’ FC Final
Belmullet v Westport
Saturday, December 9
MacHale Park at 6.30pm