Cracking club finals in prospect tomorrow night

MacHale Park is the destination tomorrow evening, with the Sweeney and Moclair Cups the prizes on offer as this year’s Intermediate and Senior club football championships come to a conclusion. A cracking night of football is in prospect under the lights in Castlebar then.

It’s been a while since either Belmullet or Burrishoole got their hands on a county title. Burrishoole came agonisingly close to capturing the Intermediate crown three years in a row at the start of the current decade but each time – in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – they lost out in the decider. You have to go back as far as 1992 for their most recent IFC victory.

Belmullet are waiting even longer to savour county title success. Their last Intermediate championship win was way back in 1974 but they head into tomorrow evening’s title decider as warm favourites to prevail.

Belmullet had a small wobble coming through the group stages in this year’s championship. They beat Mayo Gaels by 3-15 to 1-15 in their first Group 1 outing back in April but then played out a rather bizarre 4-8 to 0-20 draw against Ballyhaunis in the second round in late August. That meant the Erris men needed a result against Kiltimagh in the final round to be certain of advancement and they got it too, winning by 1-14 to 2-8 to top the group.

Belmullet’s potential to go all the way in this competition was then signalled when they crushed Swinford by 5-16 to 1-5 in the quarter-final. The semi-finals saw them paired once again with their group opponents Kiltimagh and that match a fortnight ago was a real rip-roaring contest, from which Belmullet emerged with a narrow 2-11 to 2-9 win.

Burrishoole, meanwhile, came through Group 2 without any fuss. Wins over Bonniconlon (2-12 to 0-10), Islandeady (1-12 to 1-9) and Swinford (1-17 to 0-12) saw them top the group with a 100% record. They then had ten points to spare over Ballinrobe in the quarters, winning that one by 1-15 to 1-5. They beat The Neale by 1-15 to 0-14 in the semi-final two weeks ago.

Belmullet are the 4/7 favourites to win tomorrow. From what I’ve seen of both teams this year I’d agree that it’s a game Belmullet should win, though Burrishoole’s untroubled progression to the final leaves them well poised to pull off an upset. Belmullet by two or three I’d reckon.

The main event features a novel pairing between Ballintubber and Breaffy. Having dethroned the three-in-a-row champions in last weekend’s semi-final replay, Ballintubber will now be aiming to capture the Moclair Cup for the the fourth time in their history, having done so for the first time as recently as 2010. Indeed, should they win tomorrow night they’ll equal Castlebar Mitchels’ achievement of four Senior county titles this decade.

Breaffy, by contrast, are still looking for their first ever county championship success at Senior level. They’ve been there or thereabouts frequently enough of late, though, losing finals to Castlebar in 2013 (by 1-11 to 0-8) and again in 2015 (by 4-10 to 0-9).

The two clubs were bracketed together in Group 4 of this year’s championship, along with Kiltane and Davitts. Ballintubber edged the group honours on points difference, with the group encounter between tomorrow night’s finalists ending in stalemate.

In the first round of group matches Ballintubber accounted for Davitts by 1-13 to 1-9 while Breaffy got the better of Kiltane on a scoreline of 1-15 to 1-12. Their Round 2 meeting – in what would turn out to be a dress rehearsal of tomorrow night’s title decider – ended in a 1-10 to 0-13 draw. This meant that whichever of them found the target most often in their respective final round tie would win the group. Breaffy handed out a 0-17 to 0-5 beating to Davitts in their final group game but the Tubbermen thumped Kiltane by 2-18 to 0-5 and that was more than enough to see them top the group on points difference.

Tomorrow evening’s opponents enjoyed contrasting wins in the quarters. Breaffy, down to fourteen men, were forced to hang on for dear life against a youthful resurgent Westport, a booming late, long-range free from Robbie Hennelly seeing them home by 0-11 to 0-10. Ballintubber, by contrast, quelled Moy Davitts’ challenge early on, two first half goals paving the way for a facile 2-17 to 0-11 success.

There was nothing easy for the Tubbermen in the semis, though, as they had to endure a titanic two-match series against Castlebar Mitchels, both games going to extra-time, before they finally emerged as one-point victors. On both days, Ballintubber had to come with a late surge to force the game into extra-time and in the drawn match they needed another burst to level it at 1-12 apiece. In the replay they finally wriggled clear of the champions in extra-time, winning by 0-16 to 0-15.

Breaffy had it far easier in their semi, beating Ballaghaderreen by 1-13 to 1-10. A late Ballagh’ goal made this game a lot closer at the finish than it was for much of the hour but, in reality, Breaffy always looked the likely winners.

The bookies are narrowly in Ballintubber’s camp tomorrow night, offering them at 4/5 while Breaffy are available at 11/8. To be honest, it’s hard to separate them. Will the momentum Ballintubber got from dethroning Mitchels carry them on to success? Or will the extra week’s rest stand to Breaffy? It’s difficult to know but I fancy Ballintubber to squeeze home, though there’s likely to be very little in it.

By the way, if you haven’t yet listened to club finals preview episode of the Mayo News football podcast you can do so using the SoundCloud player just below. It really is rather good.

Also if you can’t make it to MacHale Park tomorrow night but still want to see the two title deciders, they’re being streamed live on Mayo GAA TV – full details here. It’s only a fiver to watch both matches on the night – that has to be the bargain of the weekend.

I’m hitting the road west in the morning myself and I’m looking forward to being at MacHale Park for both matches. I’m also on podcasting duties along with the Mayo News lads and, if time permits (which it may not as Rob isn’t around tomorrow evening), I might even manage to do a post-match audio report as well. I will, though, definitely be doing a piece here on the blog on the two finals later on tomorrow night.  ‘Till then.

32 thoughts on “Cracking club finals in prospect tomorrow night

  1. Looking forward to tomorrow night. Should be two really good games. Not sure I will get there for all of intermediate final due to prior commitments but will be there for all of senior match. Belmullet favourites but I have a feeling Burrishoole will run them very close. Will be cheering Breaffy tomorrow night due to some connections there but I think Tubber may have a little too much for them if the two Mitchels games didn’t leave the tank a little empty.

  2. Really looking forward to tomorrow night. It’s a little late which means it’s not as family-friendly as you’d expect for a county final, but there is something a bit more special about Castlebar under lights and the atmosphere it brings.

    Also while we are often only too delighted to give out about the powers that be in Mayo County Board they deserve serious credit for two things – firstly the admission price tomorrow night (€15 for both games is fantastic value) and secondly, the ramping up of the Mayo GAA TV initiative this season which is so forward-thinking and well executed.

  3. Anne-Marie.
    I thought Croke Park had said all county finals were to be €20 admission fee.
    Perhaps the County Board would let us know.

  4. True Grit – Adults are 15 Euro, Students/OAPs are 10 Euro, Juveniles(U16) are 5 Euro and U14s are free.

    It was up on Mayo GAA Facebook yesterday.

  5. Definitely looking forward to both Big Game’s in MacHale Park…. will be there, before the 6 PM throw in for the first game…. Should be something else, the town will be buzzing… I will predict that all the Mayo Champions will begin with the letter B, including Balla, I think that I’m on a winner… Just a word about Cora Staunton ,on the Late Late Show, I taught she came across very well in the interview… I wish her luck with the Book and indeed in Australia later in the year….It was a controversial year for Mayo Ladies GAA, I hope that relationship’s can be mended and that Mayo Ladies football will be at their strongest possible footings for 2019….Tall order, but what must happen all the same!…. Someone needs to take that first step!

  6. Best of luck to all four teams tonight. Looking forward to what will be hopefully an evening of good football.

    I agree Cora came across well….Ryan Tubridy is a terrible interviewer though.

  7. Belmullet looking good, James Kelly looking a class above in the middle, Johnny Donahue cracker left foot and Ryan o Donoghue making this a one horse race. One question for the Belmullet contingent, what happen to Michael keane twin brother Brian, don’t see him listed among the subs, he was on the Mayo minor panel last year, is he injured

  8. I think it will be tight. I hope the standard of refereeing compared to quarters and semis is better tonight but Vincent is an ex county ref so it should.

    Secondly let’s hope there are more scores from play…county is missing a few marquee forwards.

    I think it will be a tight game maybe a draw.

  9. Great result for Belmullet – there’ll be less standing room than normal in McDonnells! Huge congrats to the team and squad

  10. 1st half of senior final is woeful.
    GAA need to get these rules in place to
    Eliminate the puke football.
    Unwatchable now at county and club level.

  11. Have to agree with you facetheball. Sitting in stand listening to a myriad of conversations going on around me during first half. Nothing on the field to excite anyone. Best brand of football played so far tonight was by Belmullet in first half.

  12. Breaffy should take a leaf out of belmullets book on how to move the ball, with quick inside forward interplay. Too many similar players slowing the play down way to much helps ballintubber to get men back in numbers. This is the reason why Conor o shea can’t play in the same Mayo team as Aidan, by the way totally marked out of this game.

  13. Waiting for Matthew Ruane to grab this game by the scuff of the neck and attack down the middle, open things up like James Kelly in intermediate final, failing to impress at the minute.

  14. I can see now why some of the county board executive weren’t too impressed with Forde and Conway been part of Rochfords back room team. No shape at all to Breaffy play. Very slow moving the ball forward.

  15. Thinking the same myself, what a waste of talent. Lazy coaching at its finest. No plan no movement no result. hats off to Ballintubber that mixture of youth and experience took the prize and fair play to them. Thinking forward to the trails James Kelly stock has gone up, a few senior players will be looking over their shoulder. Was expecting a lot more from Matthew Ruane but this may be down to management restricting his movement.

  16. I thought the 1 point loss flattered breaffy, ballintubber the better team and better footballers. Some of cillian and diarmuids scores were magnificent and Dillon gave a lesson in forward play. When breaffy arnt able to overpower teams they don’t seem to be able to outplay teams. Much better second half after an awful first.

  17. disappointed with breaffy overall. some simple mistakes. hard to understand their tactics. unusual to see Aidan going for the free at the end

  18. Wasn’t cracking finals anyway. First one Belmullet had won by half time. 2nd final was a dour dog fight contest. Will Breaffy ever get a better chance to win a county final against a side that was playing 3 games in 3 weeks? Well done to Tubber and Mullet! should be interesting to see are both good enough to go on and win Connacht now.

  19. Even the Breaffy folk around me were wondering about Aidan taking that free at the end. Wasn’t it a similar thing last year?

  20. I had no skin in this game but by Jesus did the ref screw over Breaffy! Ruari O’Connor should have walked on a black right in front of the linesman under the stand but got nothing, only a talking to. Ballintubber no.4 should have seen red for his assault on Dunne and the challenge on Aidan O’Shea, late, high and dangerous also went unpunished. A shocking referee performance, aided and abetted by his two linesmen. As for Cillian and Dillons snide late hits? Cheap shots.
    Ballintubber were the better side with a tighter defense and a more structured atrack. They got their shooters in dangerous positions and controlled midfield. Deserved winners.
    However, the first half was very very flat with little or no atmosphere. The second half heated up a little but it strangely never took off as I expected.
    Gibbons was very good and must be worth a re-look for the senior set up and Dunne in the corner for Breaffy was unmarkable with Ballintuber having two corner backs roasted. Dunne was always out in front, won amd held his ball, popped off passes and linked play very well.
    Anyway, best team won.

  21. Yeah another poorly reffed game pebblesmeller. Some dubious decisions. Definite free/maybe a penalty at end. We as a county whinge about refs but we have an awful display on show in our County? Have we an all ireland or connacht winning club team on show? No i doubt it! Dublin kerry club teams miles ahead. We have no natural forwards either by looks of club football. Only 2 id call into county are Conor diskin and Neil Douglas. Cillian scored 1 from play in each of last 2 games and missed 2 crucial set frees tonight so as a county where are we going forward? You’d wonder was it the external factor won ballintubber it…other coaches other teams in county have been around….maybe we need an outside approach in county and that includes county management…last 2 external managers we shafted

  22. Pebblesmeller Gibbons worth a look in???..listen he’s had more than enough chances…enough of that….did he score tonight? Time to give a young lad a chance

  23. Pk, what young lad would you suggest gets a look at for midfield? On tonight’s showing certainly not Ruane anyway, and, Gibbons was the standout midfielder in the 2 games v Mitchels also. I certainly think we could have used him last season when we lost Tom and Seamie.
    We have 1 midfielder sorted anyway in Diarmuid O’Connor, yet another left footed screamer from way out the left wing. That’s 2 weeks in a row.

  24. PK, your not wrong there, the standard of reffing in the Senior Final was very far from desirable… Not nearly fit enough in the first place to Referee an over 40 Match, never mind a County Final!

  25. Should a midfielder be expected to score then PK? What’s this hate campaign against Jason Gibbons? Absolute top midfielder , best in the county on his day.. not given half enough credit or half enough of a chance as some in Mayo GAA circles.. many people on here underestimated and criticised the same guy when in fact you could have done with him had the county set up treated him with a bit more respect.

  26. I thought the ref did fine on the overall. The match was kept under control. Got most of the cards correct. The last penalty/free shout didn’t seem so clearcut in real time.

  27. R O Connor should have got a Black, Aidan was shoving his weight around all night and was never out of Referee’s ear. He should have got gate. Breaffy played far too defensive in first half with the elements to their back. I thought Conor O Shea got on a lot of ball but his usual fault of lateral play was evident. I cant understand the need for Robbie to bring every shot at goal back a meter or two contrast that with Cillian who also looks to gain an extra yard.

    Ballintubber were the better team in my opinion but could never kill off Breaffy. I cannot fathom how the last Breaffy free was taken off the ground by Aidan who to the best of my knowledge has not taken a free off the ground in 2018. Fair play to him for having a go but management should have a plan in place.

  28. One would really have to question AOS’s application in finals, it does not seem to happen for him, attempting that free off the end was crazy

  29. I remember the Gaelic grounds in 2014 and Robbie had the free to win it at the end. It was on the edge of his range but he still brought it back a metre instead of trying to steal a yard. It’s a wonder some coach hasn’t pulled him up on it by now.

  30. The thing with freetaking as well, literally every yard further the probable % success drops. This really ramps up at 40 yards and further. To make a 43 yard kick a 48 yard kick is a significant decrease on the success %. Especially now in October weather compared to when the first match was played in warm weather in the summer time in Clogher. The ball has 10-15 yards more carry in the height of the summer.

  31. PK
    Have you anymore words of wisdom or accusations akin to your comments after the Mitchell’s match
    If you have a beef with Jason gibbons then so be it but his performances in the last 8 weeks have been very good especially during the closing stages of matches
    You mention give youth a chance please enlighten with your suggestions?

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