It was inevitable, I guess, that this cursed summer would refuse to produce the kind of weather needed for fast, flowing opening round club Championship clashes this weekend. But, of course, it did even better than that, visiting a storm across the country over the last few days, with many Round 1 matches played with near gale-force winds blowing.
It was no surprise, then, that Round 1 of the club Championships produced a raft of low-scoring contests. I made it to Aghamore myself this afternoon, an elevated venue where a howling wind blew across the pitch and where the home side and neighbours Ballyhaunis played out a tense 0-9 to 1-6 draw.
That game was tied at just three points apiece at half-time and, with both sides struggling to cope with the conditions and both keen on maintaining possession where possible, it looked like the contest would never catch fire properly. It did, though, with both teams firing over impressive second half points in the swirling conditions before Ballyhaunis struck for what looked like a decisive goal three minutes from the end of normal time.
Aghamore battled back well, however, with Fergal Boland driving through the middle and pointing but it looked like their chance was gone when Liam Lavin’s injury time penalty was saved and he was penalised for something (I’ve no idea what) while in the process of banging the ball to the net on the rebound. The home side did, however, get one final chance, when will-o-the-wisp wing forward Tom O’Flaherty knocked over an outrageous score from out on the wing to claim a share of the spoils.
That result, coupled with Knockmore’s 0-9 apiece draw with Castlebar Mitchels yesterday evening, means that it’s all-square in Group 4 after the opening round of matches. The big two will, of course, be heavily fancied to advance to the knockout stages so in that sense both Aghamore and Ballyhaunis will be ruing the missed opportunity that today’s draw represents for both of them. That said, it’s still all to play for in the group.
In Group 1, meanwhile, Ballina Stephenites and Mayo Gaels are in the driving seat, as both enjoyed opening round wins today. Stephenites’ televised tussle with Breaffy was tight all the way through but they managed to prevail at the finish by 0-12 to 0-11. Mayo Gaels had an easier time of it in their derby clash with Balla, winning that one this afternoon at Mayo Abbey by 0-16 to 0-10.
In Group 2, defending county champions Westport were the big winners, their 3-20 to 0-6 thumping of Charlestown yesterday sending out the clearest of signals that they intend to defend the Moclair Cup with everything they’ve got. Ballaghaderreen were the other winners in that group, edging out Claremorris yesterday by 0-13 to 0-11.
Ballintubber and Belmullet got the start they both wanted in Group 3. The Tubbermen finished with fourteen players, as Cillian O’Connor saw red, while The Neale were reduced to thirteen in a game that finished 1-12 to 0-5 today. Belmullet, meanwhile, beat Garrymore 1-7 to 1-6, clinching victory right at the finish of a dramatic contest at Tallagh this afternoon.
This is how the Round 1 ties in the Intermediate Championship finished this weekend:
- GROUP 1: Islandeady 2-11 Bonniconlon 1-7; Davitts 1-11 Parke/Keelogues/Crimlin 1-13
- GROUP 2: Kiltimagh 0-5 Louisburgh 1-10; Kilmeena 1-13 Ardnaree Sarsfields 0-7
- GROUP 3: Kiltane 0-8 Hollymount/Carramore 2-13; Burrsihoole 0-9 Ballinrobe 6-9
- GROUP 4: Crossmolina Deel Rovers 1-11 Kilmaine 0-9; Castlebar B 1-8 Bohola Moy Davitts 2-16
The Junior Championship Round 1 results were as follows:
- GROUP 1: Tourmakeady 0-6 Shrule/Glencorrib 0-8; Northern Gaels 1-9 Balycastle 2-6
- GROUP 2: Cill Chomain 0-11 Ardagh 0-8
- GROUP 3: Eastern Gaels 0-9 Kilmovee Shamrocks 1-6
- GROUP 4: Moygownagh 0-7 Lahardane MacHales 1-18; Ballycroy 0-5 Swinford 1-8