Another weekend of club championship action is over and, with it, the group stages of both the Senior and Intermediate championships have been concluded. It’s now down to the final eight contenders in both the SFC and the IFC, with the draw for the quarter-finals in both competitions set to take place at MacHale Park tomorrow night at 8.30pm.
I decided to travel west myself to sample a bit of the action this weekend. Yesterday I was in MacHale Park for the double-header featuring The Neale and Ardnaree followed by Ballintubber and Kiltane.
Neither contest was competitive. The Neale were out the gate within five minutes in the curtain-raiser, posting 1-2 without reply, which, on a wet afternoon playing in heavy, greasy conditions, was always going to be a hard lead to reel in. So it proved, as the impressive South Mayo team won with ease on a 1-16 to 1-8 scoreline.
It was good, though, to watch the match in the company of Pat Casey, who put in many a strong shift in his day for The Neale and who also saw action at inter-county level in 2006. Pat had plenty of detail to recount about the impressive work that’s being done at The Neale, which, on-field and off, seems to be a club that’s very much on the up at the present time. More power to them.
The second match at MacHale Park yesterday evening was even more one-sided. Kiltane never got out of the blocks at all, were completely overwhelmed around the middle and had no answer to Ballintubber’s attack led by a hungry and determined looking Cillian O’Connor.
There was a bit of first half skelping which resulted in both sides picking up straight reds but that was about as good as it got as regards entertainment. The match ended as a contest when Ballintubber walked their first goal into the net midway through the first half. Their margin of victory eventually swelled to nineteen points, the Tubbermen winning by 2-18 to 0-5.
The weather was far brighter at Gilmartin Park in Kiltimagh this afternoon. This venue – at which I last saw a match when Mayo lost to Down there in the League way back in 1983 – is but a short jaunt away from the ancestral home so was a handy one for me to catch another game before returning to Dublin later on.
This one also produced a decisive result – with Bohola Moy Davitts winning by 1-20 to 1-6 – but with just two points between the teams at the break there were precious few hints then that the game would take the trajectory it did.
Charlestown had played okay in that opening half, battling back from the early concession of 1-1 without reply. A cracking goal banged in on the run by Gareth O’Donnell, fed nicely by the lively Jack Reilly, got Charlestown moving and Reilly was prominent from then to the break, shooting a few nices points and always available as an outlet in attack.
Moy Davitts did well, though, in that first half – where they faced a stiff breeze – to contain what Charlestown threw at them. They then made a push before the break to go in two ahead.
Right from the restart, the game swung sharply in Moy Davitts’ favour. Making good use of the wind they pumped the ball in fast and the scores quickly began to rack up, via the excellent Brian Reape, the hard-working Anthony Jordan and sub Conor Byrne, who fired over three beauties.
Whenever Charlestown broke out they ran into a fairly obdurate Moy Davitts defence. Full-back Cormac Healy turned over a few great balls and with Neil Murphy sweeping up the danger beside him, the Charlestown attack were kept well at bay.
Moy Davitts always looked the likely winners as the second half went on but Charlestown’s ill-discipline made their cause a hopeless one. A total of four players got the line for them – a combination of straight reds, two yellows and a yellow/black – including sub Aidan Higgins who only lasted a few minutes before picking up a straight red for an apparent strike.
So it was an easy win in the end for Moy Davitts who, with Garrymore beating Knockmore in the other group game, qualify for the knockout stages in runners-up spot behind Garrymore. They’re now clearly in bonus territory in what’s their first season back in the senior ranks but, from what I saw today, they’ve enough quality in their ranks to give any of the big boys a right rattle.
Anyway, that was the action I got to see over the weekend. Here’s a summary of the SFC and IFC results and what they mean for the various groups.
Starting with the Senior championship, we now know the eight quarter-finalists and they are Ballaghaderreen, Ballintubber, Breaffy, Castlebar Mitchels, Claremorris, Garrymore, Moy Davitts and Westport. The four clubs pitched into the relegation avoider ties are Aghamore, Crossmolina, Davitts and Knockmore.
In Group 1, Castlebar Mitchels had a straightforward 3-12 to 0-12 win over Ballaghadereen yesterday evening, while Ballina Stephenites drew 1-8 to 0-11 with Aghamore this afternoon. That latter result means that, by a margin of a single point, it’s my local club who lose out to Ballina on points difference and so end up in a relegation battle. Group 1 details here.
We’ve already discussed Group 2 but, for the record, Garrymore beat Knockmore today by 2-14 to 0-17 while Moy Davitts got the better of Charlestown by 1-20 to 1-6. Group 2 details here.
In Group 3, Hollymount/Carramore drew with Crossmolina on a scoreline of 1-14 to 0-17 but Peadar Gardiner’s late, late equaliser for Deel Rovers wasn’t enough to dig them out of last spot in the group. Westport emerged victors from this afternoon’s top-of-the-table group clash against Claremorris, winning by 1-13 to 2-8. Group 3 details here.
Group 4 featured that Ballintubber demolition of Kiltane yesterday, which finished 2-18 to 0-5, and Breaffy had it easy too in the other game yesterday as they crushed Davitts by 0-17 to 0-5. Group 4 details here.
Here’s a quick run-down on the IFC results and what they all mean:
Group 1: Belmullet 1-14, Kiltimagh 2-8; Ballyhaunis 1-16, Mayo Gaels 0-8. These results mean that Belmullet win the group, with Kiltimagh also qualifying as runners-up. Mayo Gaels now face a relegation battle.
Group 2: Burrishoole 1-17, Swinford 0-12; Islandeady 2-9, Bonniconlon 1-12. Group winners are Burrishoole, Swinford are runners-up and Bonniconlon are in the relegation play-offs.
Group 3: The Neale 1-16, Ardnaree 1-8; Ballinrobe 2-14, Castlebar Mitchels B 0-9. The Neale win the group, Ballinrobe finish runners-up and Mitchels B are into the relegation play-offs.
Group 4: Louisburgh 1-12 Lahardane 1-10, Parke/Keelogues/Crimlin 1-14, Shrule/Glencorrib 1-10. Louisburgh win the group, Parke finish runners-up and Shrule/Glencorrib are into the relegation play-offs.
So it’s onto the knockout stages now and next weekend the focus switches to the Junior championship. The JFC semi-finals are on then, with Achill taking on Kilmeena while Balla face Killala. The Achill/Kilmeena game will be streamed live (for free) on Mayo GAA TV (details here), which is back online again and will be streaming plenty of club action over the coming weeks. Great news, in particular for those of us based outside the county.
Finally, a quick reminder that a new episode of the Mayo News football podcast will be online on Tuesday morning. This will feature plenty of the action mentioned above from this weekend, as well as details of the draws for the SFC and IFC quarter-finals. We’ll also set the scene on the podcast for next weekend’s JFC semi-finals. Stay tuned for that.