All eyes will be on Markievicz Park on Sunday for Mayo’s first competitive outing of the year but a day ahead of that the footballers of Kilmeena are the ones on centre stage, with their eyes starting to focus on a big prize. That’s because on Saturday afternoon at Pearse Park in Longford the West Mayo outfit takes on Leinster champions Clonbullogue of Offaly in the All-Ireland Junior football Championship semi-final. Throw-in is 1.30pm that day.
Kilmeena’s long Championship campaign over the past number of months has been an increasingly impressive one. The Pete McDonnell Cup isn’t easily won but Kilmeena were favourites to land the county JFC title from the outset and they duly did so when they beat off the challenge of Cill Chomain in the county decider back in November.
Victories over Athenry of Galway and Sligo’s St Patrick’s landed Kilmeena the Connacht JFC title. The provincial final, played early in the New Year, was a particularly one-sided affair, in which Kilmeena beat the Sligo champions by 1-18 to 0-5.
Saturday’s opponents from the Faithful County are likely to pose far sterner questions for John Reilly’s team. Some background on Clonbullogue is provided in a good preview piece in the Offaly Express – here.
This youthful Kilmeena team, who have impressive young county player Jack Carney in their ranks, have shown they’re up for whatever challenges they’re presented with. They’ll no doubt be confident that they’ll be ready for whatever the Offaly lads bring to the table the next day.
There’s a great preview of Saturday’s game by Michael Gallagher in this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital variants), which name-checks Fionn MacCumhaill and St Patrick before zeroing in on the match itself. Michael concludes his match preview piece by asserting that “Kilmeena, on their best form, can win the day.”
Here’s hoping that Kilmeena bring their best form with them to Pearse Park on Saturday and that they get the result that hands them their ticket to Croke Park and a shot at the All-Ireland JFC title. The very best of luck to them.