It’s club finals night on the double at MacHale Park tomorrow. The Intermediate decider between Ballyhaunis and The Neale throws in at 5pm, with the Senior final between Ballintubber and Ballaghaderreen getting underway at 7pm.
For those who are planning on going along tomorrow evening – and who don’t have Cáirde Mhaigheo season tickets (if you do, your admission is covered) – match tickets are available at a reduced rate up until midnight tonight. Details on that offer here.
If – like me – you’re not going to be able to make it to Castlebar for the game, then streaming the action online via Mayo GAA TV is the next best option. Details on doing that are here.
Both finals are fascinating encounters. In the IFC decider, Ballyhaunis are looking to make a return to the Senior ranks for the first time since 2016 while The Neale are aiming to secure their first ever county title at this level. The East Mayo lads are narrow favourites, in large part because of their greater experience and the fact that it’s not that long since they last operated at Senior level, but The Neale are a club on the up and they’ll head for Castlebar tomorrow confident in their ability to land the Sweeney Cup.
The Senior final sees a showdown between two clubs who, between them, have only ever tasted title success at this level seven times but six of those county final wins – four for the Tubber and two for Ballagh – have come since 2008. Ballintubber first captured the Moclair Cup as recently as 2010 but tomorrow evening they’re aiming for their fifth Senior title in what has been a remarkable decade of success for them. The last time Ballaghaderreen were top dogs in the county was in 2012.
Ballintubber upset the odds slightly last year when, at the semi-final stage, they put a halt to Castlebar Mitchels’ march towards a four-in-a-row before going on to edge out Breaffy in the final. Ballaghaderreen’s semi-final victory over Mitchels a few weeks back had more than a hint of the changing of the guard about it, with the experience and guile the former champions had proving no match to the pace and power the up and coming Ballagh team showed.
It’ll be a real contrast of styles in tomorrow evening’s decider. Ballintubber’s success this decade has been built on defensive solidity and a strong workrate – they grind teams down, as Ballina discovered in spades in the semi-final. Ballagh’s great start against Mitchels provided them with the platform for success there and you’d have to think that they’ll need to grab the ascendency early on in the final too, otherwise they risk – as has happened to so many other teams before them – getting snared in the Tubbermen’s web.
Our Senior final preview podcast episode (here) provides the perfect primer ahead of tomorrow’s Moclair Cup decider.
Best of luck to all four teams battling it out for the silverware tomorrow evening. A cracking night of club football lies in store then.