It’s time to draw breath once again after another cracking weekend of club action within the county. We’re really at the business end of things now in the Senior, Intermediate and Junior football Championships, with the finalists in each competition now identified.
Belmullet have been the story of this year’s club Championships all along so it’s only right to start this results round-up by talking about them. They’ve revelled in the role of gutsy outsiders right through this campaign, first in negotiating their way to the top of a tough group – where, on the way, they beat defending champions Knockmore – and then dispatching last year’s beaten finalists Breaffy in the quarter-finals.
Today at Ballina they did it again, upsetting the odds once more to beat fancied Westport by 2-7 to 0-9. They were full value for their victory too, in a match they took by the scruff of the neck in the second half, their talisman Ryan O’Donoghue landing the killer blow with a goal in injury time to seal a four-point win for the Erris men.
In the Moclair Cup decider in two weeks time they’ll be up against Knockmore who got the better of Garrymore under the lights at Bekan last night. This one was the classic game of two halves with Garrymore looking by the far the more assured and purposeful at the break, by which time they’d established an 0-8 to 0-4 lead.
The champions came out transformed in the second half, though, and the goals they’d spent most of the first half hunting unsuccessfully for suddenly materialised in the second period. Those two goals, scored by the Ruttledge brothers, came within a few minutes of each other and there was no way back for Garrymore from those hammer blows. Knockmore won by 2-11 to 0-11 at the finish.
The final will, appropriately enough for what is an all-North Mayo affair, take place at James Stephens Park in Ballina in a fortnight’s time. Knockmore will be hunting for their tenth county title and will also be aiming to emulate the 1983/4 and 1996/7 teams by claiming back-to-back title wins.
Belmullet, meanwhile, are in the final for the first time since 1981 and they’ve yet to win the Paddy Moclair Cup. After the campaign they’ve enjoyed this year, however, it’d be a brave person who’d rule them out of it now. It should be a final to savour in two weeks time.
It wasn’t a weekend of unconfined joy in Erris, though, as Kiltane yesterday lost out in the relegation decider to Balla and so drop down to Intermediate next year, after six seasons in the Senior grade. That match, played at Knockmore, went Balla’s way on a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-9.
The Intermediate final, meanwhile, will be contested by Mayo Gaels and Ballyhaunis. In very blustery conditions at Flanagan Park yesterday an impressive Mayo Gaels outfit put an end to Kilmaine’s gallop, winning by 0-11 to 0-6. In the early game this afternoon at Josie Munnelly Park Ballyhaunis caused a minor upset by toppling Louisburgh. This was a tight contest throughout, with Ballyhaunis prevailing by 0-11 to 1-6. In the IFC relegation decider, Lahardane were decisive 2-12 to 1-7 winners over Swinford.
Onto the Junior A Championship, where Kilmeena yesterday hammered Islandeady by 1-19 to 0-6, while Cill Chomain got the better of Shrule/Glencorrib this afternoon by 0-9 to 0-7. In the JFC B semi-finals, Eastern Gaels beat Kilfian by 1-15 to 0-6 while Tourmakeady saw off Ballycroy by 2-8 to 1-9.