It’s down to the final two in this year’s race for both the Moclair and Sweeney Cups. This year’s SFC final will be contested by defending champions Ballintubber and Ballaghaderreen while the IFC decider pits The Neale against Ballyhaunis.
Both of the Senior semi-finals were low scoring affairs. I tuned in on Mayo GAA TV last night to watch the Ballintubber/Ballina game and, I swear to God, I nodded off briefly early in the second half. It was a dour, defensive struggle for much of the hour with little in the way of expansive, open football.
Ballina had a few goal chances before the break but failed to capitalise on these openings, whereas Ballintubber were a bit more efficient in front of the posts. They led by five points to two at the break.
Once the champions had opened up a four-point gap early in the second half, it was always going to be tough for the Stephenites to break down that deep-lying defence. It didn’t help Ballina’s cause that they opted predominantly to run the ball in, repeatedly getting swallowed up by the cover for their troubles.
They did manage to cut the gap to two points with ten minutes left to play but that was their final score of the evening. Ballintubber always looked to have the edge and Ciaran Gavin’s goal – he shimmied past David Clarke and slipped the ball to the net – sealed their place in the final.
I didn’t see this afternoon’s other semi-final as I was out in Parnell Park myself then but following it on the ‘phone it was clear that this was a game in which Ballaghaderreen led from pillar to post. They bagged the game’s first five points and never looked back from there.
By half-time they were ten points to four in front and, by the sounds of it, they held off Mitchels with some ease to win by 0-15 to 0-8. Mike Finnerty tipped them as dark horses for the Moclair Cup on the last episode of the podcast and I’m now regretting my failure to stick a few quid on them on the back of that recommendation.
The decider has been fixed for MacHale Park on Saturday, 19th October, where throw-in under the lights will be at 7pm. It’ll be preceded, at 5pm, by the Intermediate final.
The Neale emerged from a thriller last night to book their place in the IFC final, as they got the better of Louisburgh after extra-time on a scoreline of 2-15 to 1-14. I caught the latter stages of that contest on Mayo GAA TV, in a game where a cracking goal early in the second half of extra-time by Darragh Moran finally broke Louisburgh’s resolve.
This afternoon’s other semi-final, between perennial challengers Burrishoole and Ballyhaunis, was another all-in tussle. The West Mayo lads looked well set at half-time, when they led by four and, after Ballyhaunis bagged a goal to equalise, Burrishoole went back down the field to score another goal themselves.
From then to the finish, though, Ballyhaunis took complete control of the game. A succession of scores for them included two further goals, the last one closing out an emphatic 3-11 to 2-6 victory.
The two relegation deciders, at Senior and Intermediate levels, were also played today. Bohola Moy Davitts preserved their Senior status for next year when they beat Hollymount/Carramore by 2-11 to 1-12, while Ballinrobe staved off relegation to Junior level, sending Shrule/Glencorrib down on a scoreline of 0-16 to 0-14.
Finally, Carnacon were once again – for the 20th year in a row – crowned ladies football county champions this weekend. They beat Moy Davitts by 3-11 to 0-8 in the decider on Saturday. Well done to them.