Photo: Irish Mirror/Inpho
It’s down to the semi-final stage in both the Senior and Intermediate club championships, with the penultimate round ties in both competitions set to be played at MacHale Park this coming weekend. It promises to be a serious weekend of club football within the county and I’m looking forward to heading west tomorrow to catch the matches for myself.
The two SFC semi-finals will be played out under the lights at MacHale Park tomorrow evening. Then it’s back to Castlebar the following afternoon for a double-header of IFC semi-final action.
The Senior semi-finals tomorrow night look likely to attract a decent-sized crowd. There’s something about Saturday evening football that makes it more of an occasion and while it’s more usual to see the county team in action under the glare of the floodlights, it’s an option that’s increasingly being used nowadays for big club games too. It should make for a great atmosphere at the Castlebar venue tomorrow evening.
Getting the show on the road then will be the meeting of Breaffy and Ballaghaderreen (throw-in 6pm). When these two met at the quarter-final stage last year it was a massacre, with Breaffy knocking in six goals on their way to a 20-point win. It’s expected to be far closer tomorrow evening – and, in truth, if Westport had taken their chances in the last round, Breaffy might well be gone by now – but Ballagh’ will need to repeat their goal-scoring exploits against Garrymore if they’re to progress to their first Moclair Cup final since they won it last, back in 2012.
The main attraction, though, tomorrow night will be the repeat of last year’s final, with four-in-a-row chasing Castlebar Mitchels facing Ballintubber (throw-in 7.30pm). The O’Connors against the Durcans. Donie Vaughan versus Jason Gibbons in the middle of the park. Barry Moran’s experience compared to the clever-as-a-fox attributes of the ageless Alan Dillon. This one has the potential to be a real humdinger. It’s worth driving west for on its own.
On Sunday afternoon, Burrishoole and The Neale get the ball rolling at 1pm in the first of the day’s IFC semi-finals. Jason Doherty is the star attraction in this one and a player of his quality has the capability to do a serious amount of damage in a tie like this. I liked what I saw of The Neale last month, however, the day they crushed Ardnaree in the final group match and since then they had a narrow win over Parke in the quarters. Burrishoole are going well, though, so The Neale will need a big performance if they’re to do it.
At 2.30pm that afternoon Kiltimagh face Belmullet. The East Mayo lads are no doubt still ruing the fact that they didn’t dump Belmullet out of the competition when they had the chance in that meeting in the final round of group matches. The Erris men needed the win that day to make the quarters and they got it. Their subsequent demolition of Swinford showed that they’re coming to the boil at just the right time. Kiltimagh are a well-rounded outfit, though, and won’t give in without a battle. This could be another cracker.
If you can’t make it to Castlebar this weekend then you’ll still be able to catch all the action live over the internet on Mayo GAA TV. Match passes cost a modest €5 per day and details of how to access this excellent streaming service are here. As an added bonus, subscribers to the service this weekend will be entered into a draw for a 2019 Cairde Mhaigheo season ticket – details on that are here.
Depending on how the mood takes me over the weekend I might do a few quick post-match audio reports while I’m in MacHale Park and I’ll also be summarising the action afterwards here on the blog. And, of course, I’ll be joining in with Rob and the rest of the Mayo News lads on the podcast, with the episode reviewing the weekend’s championship action online as usual on Tuesday morning.