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Summer begins for senior clubs

Sean Rice
Pictured are family members of Mayo’s Tom Parsons who was shortlisted for the 2009 Cadbury ‘Hero of the Future’ award recently.
Pictured are family members of Mayo’s Tom Parsons who was shortlisted for the 2009 Cadbury ‘Hero of the Future’ award recently.

Summer starts for senior clubs

Sean RiceSean Rice

BALLAGHADERREEN begin the defence of their championship on Sunday with a home game against Breaffy. They’ll fancy their chances of easing into the campaign with victory over a side still seeking their first point in the league.
But beware! A tougher opponent could be lurking in the long grass. Complacency is a bigger enemy than Breaffy. Ballagh’ have stumbled into similar traps in the past and Sunday’s yawns once more.
That’s to Breaffy’s advantage. They are the underdogs. No greater fillip can a team receive than to field against over-confident champions. It puts the men in blue-and-white in a good position to spring a surprise.
On the face of it, though, Breaffy are battling against the odds. They languish at the bottom of their division without a point to their name. They have to travel, and they are still under strength.  To win they will have to draw on a resource greater than anything they have found so far this year.
Ballagh’ have won two of the four they have played in the division. They drew with Moy Davitts in their last outing and, crucially, were beaten by Crossmolina. They have been without James Kilcullen, and on the last occasion were also without ace scorer Andy Moran.
Moran will be the driving force in attack on Sunday and Barry Regan is still quarrying out some precious nuggets.  Mayo panellist Barry Kelly is the main provider from midfield while the defence is built around the sturdy trio of Stephen Drake, Gary Conway and Noel Tuohy.
Breaffy have lashings of talent. But in the league they have missed the glue that Tommy Canavan and Colm Lyons provided last year. Yet they lost only narrowly on a couple of occasions, their last game by a point, without key man Aidan O’Shea, to Shrule/Glencorrib.
They’ll fight to the end. Kevin Scahill, Barry Jordan, the Jennings brothers, Finin Canavan, the O’Sheas, Marty McNicholas and Alan Durcan are assured and accomplished. And if their season looks less bright than it did this time last year, who knows, maybe they’ll prove that the league is not a true reflection of their form.

MATCH of the day is the Saturday clash of table-toppers Ballintubber  and Claremorris. Neither has been beaten in Division 1B, but Ballintubber have played one more game. They have avoided each other so far in the league which makes the outcome on Saturday much more difficult to predict.
Ballintubber concede home advantage, but they bring to Fr Gibbons Park the big dollops of determination they have shown in reaching the division. Defeats of Castlebar, Garrymore, Swinford and Davitts are testimony of their growing influence as a senior force. Last year, led by Alan Dillon, they came closest to killing off  Ballaghaderreen’s dream with a dramatic draw in the quarter-final.
And while they lost the replay they have earned the respect of every team in the county. The O’Connors, Cathal Hallinan, Michael Nestor, Jason Gibbons and Damien McGing, spearheaded by Dillon, have brought a new focus to the Abbey men.
Claremorris, dark horse of the championship, will test their convictions to the full. The manner in which they trounced Castlebar in the first round of the league left no one in doubt about the big advances made by the South Mayo side in the last year or two.
The Feeleys, the Prendergasts, Ger Brady, Paddy Nevin, the Mullins brothers — particularly Mickey, who inflicted most damage on Castlebar — have grown in stature in a team of varied skill and no little passion. It may be enough to guide them over the first round.
CASTLEBAR MITCHELS, still struggling for a renewal of old glory, make the journey to Charlestown. Although they have improved considerably since losing so meekly to Claremorris, they will still struggle against a side whose draw with Shrule/Glencorrib in the league edged them off the top of Div 1B.
Forecasts of their demise have spurred Charlestown into new life. Having lost the county final to Ballaghaderreen last season there were fears of wholesale retirements from a side that has embellished the championship throughout this decade.
Their league performances have revealed no sign of disillusionment.  On the contrary, veterans David Tiernan and Aidan Higgins are the rallying force and from them Tony and Paul Mulligan, Kevin Deignan, Richie Haran and Ollie Conway draw strength.
It will be much harder for them on Saturday if Barry Moran and Tom Cunniffe line out for Castlebar. They county men have been missing from some of their league games and have not been adequately replaced.
Pat Kelly is a big addition to them but they will be without one of their hardest workers, Richie Feeney, who is under suspension. The return of his brother Alan will strengthen the team, and Shane Fitzmaurice, Adrian Roache, Donal Newcombe, Niall Lydon, Niall Douglas and Eamon Tiernan bring flair to their play. But on league form Charlestown look the better side.


NOR will Ballinrobe find it as easy to shake off the challenge of Ballina Stephenites as they did a few weeks back when they walloped the former All-Ireland champs in the league by ten points.
Back at the scene of that embarrassment Ballina will be a different proposition. They are not the force that won the All-Ireland club championship a few years ago, but miffed by the scale of that defeat, still pack a punch. In their league match with Breaffy, midfielder Liam Brady scored 1-7 and together with Pat Harte showed the way.
Heading Division 1A of the league is a sign of Ballinrobe’s growing maturity. Another win over the Stephenites would boost their confidence enormously, and James O’Malley Donal Vaughan, Sean Grimes, Ronan Macken, Paul Finnerty and Ray McGreal have the ability to meet the challenge. But because they may not match the experience of their opponents they could be elbowed out.
Meanwhile, of the five games they have played so far Burrishoole have won only one. Evergreen Colm McManamon is still one of their stalwarts but even the former Mayo star is finding it difficult to motivate his younger colleagues. That¹s why they’ll struggle in Shrule on Sunday where the local side inspired by their new Mayo senior captain Trevor Mortimer are likely to prevail.

CROSSMOLINA without Ciaran McDonald is almost unthinkable. He is Crossmolina. And if injury prevents him from lining out, Knockmore¹s hopes will surge. They are also playing for league points.
The celebrated rivalry of these neighbours will draw one of the biggest crowds of the day. Knockmore are rebuilding and are not the force they once were. Yet, backboned by Kevin McLoughlin, John Brogan, Trevor Howley, Aidan Kilcoyne, Damien Munnelly and Kevin O¹Neill their chances cannot be easily dismissed.
Crossmolina have slipped somewhat also, but will have been reinvigorated this season by John Maughan. James Nallen who epitomises all that is best in Gaelic football, continues to inspire them. And they have Peadar Gardiner, Tom Nallen, Pat McAndrew, Declan Keating, Cathal Carolan, Mark Leonard, Brian Benson and Joe Keane to keep their hopes afloat. It’s a toss of a coin. Crossmolina by a whisker maybe!
Moy Davitts ought to be too strong for Kiltane, home advantage the decisive factor, while the clash of Aghamore and Garrymore has been changed to June 14.

MPU Mayo

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