Junior championship semi-finals on this Sunday

Photo: @MWRSport

When I was chatting with The Neale’s Pat Casey for the podcast at MacHale Park last Saturday he remarked that the county’s Junior football championship is the hardest one of the lot to win. The race to land this toughest of club titles – and with it the Pete McDonnell Cup – is now down to the final four for this year, with both JFC semi-finals taking place on Sunday.

In those penultimate round ties Achill face Kilmeena at MacHale Park while Balla take on Killala at James Stephens Park in Ballina. Both matches throw in at 3.30pm on Sunday. The Achill/Kilmeena game will be streamed live, free of charge, by Mayo GAA TV – details here.

Achill have proved a bit of a surprise packet in this year’s championship. In the round-robin stage they finished level on four points in Group 1 with Kilmovee Shamrocks and Ardagh, with points difference putting them into second spot. That meant a tough quarter-final draw and in that draw they pulled the toughest club in the hat, last year’s beaten finalists Kilmaine. At a rain-soaked MacHale Park last month, however, it was the Islanders who emerged victorious, ending Kilmaine’s run by 2-9 to 0-9.

Kilmeena, by contrast, have ploughed a straightforward route to the semis. They topped Group 3, with three wins from three, including a 0-16 to 0-8 win over runners-up Cill Chomain. They got a handy draw in the quarters when they were paired with Knockmore’s second string and they proceeded to win that one in a high-scoring contest that finished 4-18 to 2-13.

Balla also cut an impressive swathe through the group stages, topping Group 4 with three wins, in the process racking up a points difference of +27. They were too strong for Cill Chomain in the quarters as well, winning that one by 2-8 to 1-5.

Killala, like Achill, made it through to the knockout stages by virtue of a runners-up finish in their group. They were beaten 1-10 to 1-6 by group winners Kilmaine and then squeezed past Kilmovee by 2-5 to 0-10 in the quarter-finals.

We’ll be featuring both JFC semi-finals in next week’s edition of the Mayo News football podcast, which will be online next Tuesday morning. In the same episode we’ll also be looking forward to the start of the knockout action in the SFC and IFC the following weekend.

There are other Junior championship ties on this weekend as well. Here’s the full list of matches down for decision:

JFC A Championship

  • SEMI-FINALS: Achill v Kilmeena at MacHale Park, Balla v Killala at James Stephens Park, Sunday 3.30pm
  • RELEGATION FINAL: Ballina Stephenites B v Crossmolina Deel Rovers B at Knockmore, Sunday 12.30pm

JFC B Championship

  •  SEMI-FINALS: Kiltimagh B v Moygownagh at James Stephens Park, Sunday 1.30pm; Claremorris B v Westport B at Ballinrobe, Sunday 2pm

JFC C Championship

  •  SEMI-FINALS: Burrishoole B v Louisburgh B at MacHale Park, Sunday 1.30pm; Belmullet B v Parke B at Knockmore, Sunday 2pm

Best of luck to all the clubs in championship action this coming weekend.

65 thoughts on “Junior championship semi-finals on this Sunday

  1. Good luck to Moygownagh! I hope the get back to junior A which would be great for the club after nearly going out of existence a couple of years ago!!

  2. Kilmeena seem to be a well organised club with great facilities. They may give Achill a run for their money!

  3. Willie Joe,
    Unless my eyes are deceiving me both Jun A and Jun B semis in James Stephens’ Park are on at 3.30 pm.
    What, apart from that, I cannot understand is why both Jun A semis are not on together, similarly Jun B and Jun C. Surely there would be more interest from spectators in watching real or potential rivals in the upcoming finals than some unlelated game.

  4. Best luck all clubs. Be great see Moygownagh. Amazing community spirit keep going. HT on Westport in minor championship Westport 1.06 to 1.05 up v Knockmore. Lovely game some great players both teams. Westport much bigger physically.

  5. Two players to watch for at the weekend.
    Eddie Doran (Achill)
    Tom Reynolds (Balla) he is still a minor, but a good defender & good for a score.

  6. Mayo gooch,

    What about Balla’s Barry Duffy, such a prromising minor? Has he progressed at all? I would have thought that he should be worth watching as a prospect for 2019.

  7. Willie Joe, just a note to compliment yourself and the Mayo News team on the club podcasts – highly enjoyable and informative. I imagine that for anyone living away from home that they are extra special. Fantastic work all round.

    That’s quite an appealing feast of action on Sunday in Ballina.

  8. It’s very hard for a young player with a Junior club to develope into a top player as the standard he meets week in week out is so low. It’s even hard for an Intermediate clubman. Which is why a development panel at county level is so important but it must give games as well as training. This is even more important now with minor being reduced to U17 and what was U21 being now U20. The 21/22 age group are in danger of being forgotten about unless they make an immediate breakthrough. This is where Kerry have a huge advantage with their amalgamations.

  9. Well done and thanks willie joe for setting up a junior semi final thread. Junior often gets forgotten but there are more junior clubs than in either intermediate or senior. And it is a hard one to win.
    Balla are secure in div 2 league but that didn’t do Kilmaine any good. Their key players are Val roughneen Mattie Flanagan and captain Conor Walsh, and remember they won minor A title last year, which was a phenomenal achievement. Some of those lads are coming through to push hard for places. At the other end Declan Sweeney is still togging and scored 2 points in league v Kilmaine last week. Pat Fallon and his sideline team of John Dempsey and Noel Earley have done a great job with this team.

  10. Exactly AndyD…

    It’s be interesting to look Mayo senior teams over the past 15/20 years and see how many have come from lower league/smaller clubs. I’d say the percentage of players who make co minor from these clubs is higher. All of which means as a county we are not maximising our potential whereas Kerry are.

    That’s the biggest difference.

  11. Kerry system is so different to ours, unless it’s changed players can togout and play for their junior and intermediate teams but also play for an area team in the senior championship so the best of these players get tested at the highest level in Kerry. Kerry always seem to have an advantage at club level as there is so little actual senior teams mostly area teams. Intermediate level always strong.

  12. To echo other comments, great to see some attention for Junior championship matches, thks WJ.

    This is the level many of us (proudly, if not always elegantly or successfully!) soldiered at, and many of us are from clubs (like Moygownagh) where Junior is the one and only team.

  13. JP followed the Mitchells/Charlestown game on twitter.Seemed to be a great game. Charlestown got all the goals.Charlestown twitter very gracious in defeat. How many of both teams were on our minor team?

  14. Minor at club level is still U18 Charlestown would have Paul Towey Paddy Goldrick from Mayo U17s last year and Jack Mahon from this years U17s. Castlebar had 4 lads on this years U17s

  15. Barry Duffy was unlucky to get injured wrist near the start of last year’s semi and subbed half time. Injury was from putting his body on the link with a brave block down. The point about junior blocking progress though is well made. The other player no one watching Balla mentioned was wing back Kilkenny who was one of the few Balla lads to shine that day. Definitely smart guys in management, hopefully they can bring out a big performance. If we keep going up the grades some of our talented players will hopefully get into the County mix.

  16. Good post WJ. Few points here:
    Balla have had more county minors and u21s than you could poke a stick at over the last decade yet are still junior. It doesn’t make sense to me. Either (a) some of those lads weren’t good enough for those minor and u21 Mayo teams and shouldn’t have been there, or (b) their junior team as woefully underachieved in recent years. Killala and Achill and kilmenna by contrast would rarely have a county underage player but are at the same level as them.

    Secondly – is minor at club level really still u18? Wow. How bloody stupid were the gaa to change he age group then given only a small proportion of players (county players) are affected. What was the point of it all?? Guessing u21 is still a Comp at club level too then?
    Of all the bad gaa decisions over the years, the move to u20 and u17 has to be one of the worst.

    Crete Boom – interested to hear moygownagh nearly folded a few years back? What was he background to that. Have great memories playing underage against them when still moygownagh even before they linked up with Ardagh. There’s a couple of their neighbouring clubs struggling badly too at the minute due to population decline I guess. Some great tradition of football in that part of Mayo. It’s not long since a Mayo team togged out for an All Ireland senior final with four players from moygownagh and lacken on the team.

  17. Ciaran Kilkenny Balla is an overlooked player for Balla in my view. He looks the best of Balla to me and he never played Mayo minor. Tremendously powerful and quick. He’s the only one looks like he could jump to county.

  18. Crossmolina conceding to Ballintubber, trouble in the camp or all guns blazing for next week? Methinks it’s the latter.

  19. Malachy Clerkin paints a depressing picture in today’s Irish Times with his summary of the counties current woes.

  20. The link to that Malachy Clerkin piece is here: https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/centre-cannot-hold-as-mayo-football-beset-by-turbulent-times-1.3629763. From what I know, it’s a fair reflection of what’s happened (on the men’s side, I’ve no idea what’s what with the ladies) and it sure does paint a depressing picture. Sadly, it’s very difficult to be in any way optimistic about next year, given the hole we’re in now.

  21. Justin from what I’ve heard your correct crossmolina apparently conceding to focus on next week. Can’t say I agree with it personally for number of reasons.
    A) Can get injured training as well as playing.
    B) If afraid they get trimming off Tubber and don’t want that week before big game it’s defeatist as well and can be no better psychologically for players you’d imagine.
    C) diminishes league. Dead rubber or not.
    But it might work for them, anything goes in a derby.
    Moygownagh issue I’d imagine was numbers. Age profile of team is largely veteran soldiers which are credit to there parish. Ardmoy seems be largely Ardagh dominant. Lots houses there in last 10 to 15 years so younger families.

  22. We do seem to press the self destruct button all too often in this county….despite all that we consistently challenge and get to senior finals since 1989. Imagine if we had a proper setup with everyone rowing in the same direction.

    Every county had egos and personal agendas but there are a few too many in this county and anyone with that mindset should be *ucked out da door.

  23. Why did Rochford take six weeks to make up his mind ?

    Where does mayo county board stand in the table for funding to senior team ? (Always look near the top in any graph I’ve seen printed last few years)

    Commercial director : CB announce they’re going to hunt one . Posters in here screaming last two years about appointing one , now they say it’s a pr exercise and another poster assumes they’ll appoint “a goon” ( or maybe he fancies it himself ummmm)

    Very easy to follow the narrative of county board bashing . They’re hardly covering themselves in glory but I do find it hilarious how it’s so similar to opposition politicians , fantastic guys to tell you where it’s all going wrong but not a solution in sight . And like our political landscape in Ireland when the traditional opposition went to bed together everyone realised they’re just two of a kind with a different logo .

  24. Where did they announce they’re going to hunt one Sean? Connelly said “we’ll have to look at appointing some sort of commercial person”. He gave no timeline, no inclination of what kind of role the person would have, just a “commercial person”. If you’ve followed any of the posts I’ve written over the last two years on the commercial director you’ll notice I always said the ideal person should be a former county player with a financial background. I’ve neither of those qualifications so I’d appreciate if you didn’t make insinuations that I’m trying to line myself up for a role I have no interest in.

  25. There is a solution to most of the ills of the county board. It’s called the strategic review, put together by Liam Horan in 2010. It called for a Commercial Director and a Director of Football 8 years ago. It dealt with finance, coaching, public relations, fundraising and the debt from the stand. It’s as relevant today as it was back then. There has always been people willing to help within the county, but you have to be willing to accept there’s a problem before you’ll accept help. I am 100% convinced that had we adopted the strategic review in full in 2010 we would have 2/3 All Ireland’s today.

  26. Amounts raised from fundraising have averaged 820000 per year since 2012.
    Club Rossie hope to raise 1.5million this year on their house draw.

  27. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes re appointment of commercial director, funding for center of excellence and of course the trip to New York next may. Once the management appointment is made, we can expect announcements shortly after on all of the above and we can all move forward looking forward to a great 2019

  28. Sean Burke Stephen Rochford had a term in place,all so he attended matches which would give the impression he intended to stay on,the chairman have him a deadline to get his new backroom team in place which would say he ment to carry on,and before any one talks about last year’s backroom team they intended to leave last year,so as far as I can see it is the county board who have made the mistakes,also on fundraising we are not at all reaching our potential,if we targeted England and America we would raise hundreds of thousands,but with the slack efforts we are losing big time

  29. Is there any possibility that Stephen Rochford would come back to implement the plans he was obviously making for next year.

  30. Management situation is a farce.It is hard enough to deal with players besides having to deal with the C.B. as well. They will go for a yes man.

  31. Thanks for the link Willie Joe. You might consider a link to a piece in the Indo on McStay (for some reason I can’t copy it), where he has a cut at journos and the media narrative he sees being driven by the Kerry and Dublin brigade.

  32. That kind of interference by county board is just shocking. Am no way confident about us getting a top class manager (coach, backroom team). Cannot see James Horan going back. Where this will end now is anybody’s guess…..

  33. @Sean Burke do you have a link to the CB saying they are going to ” hunt” a commercial director? Or even a timeline for just getting one in place?

  34. The most successful Ladies GAA club in the County is not wanted and is facing expulsion by the Mayo Ladies County Board while on the Male side two Managers with a proven track record are either being removed or prevented from carrying on the great work (that has nearly resulted in getting this team over the line) – – by certain individuals in the Men’s County Board. Jeez it must be hard going for a player in this “banana republic” of a county of ours watching this farce being carried on by the women and men in suits in the corridors of power of McHale park. I do believe that there are some capable people on both boards – – – but it is time now that they acted in the “best interests of Mayo football” and stop concentrating on their own “personal agendas”- – move on, start delivering for the genuine Mayo player and supporter – it’s not rocket science.

  35. @samuel maguire in relation to the ladies there is not much sympathy for that club in mayo with the way they tried and failed with a coup.they failed and threw the toys out of the pram!
    The ladies could have being preparing for a final this weekend but …

  36. While I agree with what you say Aidan – – I think it could have been sorted out differently. As a club – -they have been brilliant ambassadors for Mayo over the years – bringing home the silverware on a consistent basis. So while there might not be much sympathy for them – there were other ways of resolving the issue without having to expel them.

  37. Money talks- Dublin’s sponsorship helps Dublin success and JP McManus financial backing for the Limerick Hurlers helped end the 45 year famine in Limerick.
    In 2015 Kerry were fundraising for a Centre of Excellence, County Chairman O Sullivan and fundraising chief John O Dwyer (son of Micko) and a few former players blitzed Chicago ,Boston and New York and raised over one million euro. They had a dinner plus function in New York where 420 people attended at one thousand dollars a plate. There are a lot of Mayo people in these three American Cities, why does Mayo County Board not plan to raise large funds there for to help prepare Our Team. If Kerry can raise large finances in the States why can Mayo not do the same. Mayo going to New York in May is a big opportunity to raise a lot of money if we have a top class management team in charge of Our Senior Team for 2019. I have spoken to Two Mayo GAA people from West and South Mayo in the past week both said Our Next Manager should be James Horan.

  38. Samuel Maguire – the way the Carnacon players behaved within the county panel leaves a lot to be desired. After failing in their coup to get rid of Peter Leahy they use an excuse of “player welfare” to justify leaving and fail to clarify in any way what this is. Some people were very unhappy with the way the men’s players forced Homes/Connelly out. The Carnacon players tried the same but fair play to Leahy for standing his ground.

  39. In my experience of football club’s both Soccer and Gaelic, in Ireland and UK…. Many years ago,.. still some things never change..Very few players ever get too involved in Administration Contraversy… especially the younger ones and new recruits…. It’s was always in my experience, just a few leaders in every Club, and by and large the majority of the player’s primary interest was in playing.. No Club that I was ever involved with had anything quite as controversial as Carnacon’ to contend with…. But there were Minor disputes, and A few EGO’s who didn’t like maybe someone else in another Club, this was particularly the case in the GAA in London in the 80’s and 90’s…. Unless ‘Carnacon’ can prove these ‘Welfare’ Issue’s , Peter Leahy was fully correct to go public and refute these potentially?damaging allegations publicy!…In Carnacon’ while maybe eight followed, only a small number led…Of those who led this misjudged attempted Coup’, those who publicy made these damaging allegations against Peter Leahy and his management team, must either prove these allegations or withdraw them, publicy as well…. For those in Carnacon who followed the few, I say this, ‘Don’t let your Mayo football career, go down the Swanie, or the demise of your Fantastically successful Club go down either’. Every Club is bigger than a few individuals, who seem to think that the Club existance depends upon them.. To the LGFA Mayo County Board, I say this…’It isn’t fair to punish the Innocent, no matter how you look at it, several totally Innocent girls are being punished by the proposed throwing out of the Carnacon’ Club from all Senior Mayo Competition…In fairness, to Peter Leahy, he has indicated his willingness to select, Carnacon’ player’s in the future, and the few others who were unavailable for selection…. You know, seriously If we, all involved had our act together,..Mayo LGFA could easily be playing in tomorrow’s All Ireland finals…..And then the attendance record would certainly be broken…. It’s certainly a challenge for everyone involved, but it could happen next year!

  40. Condolences to Cillian and Diarmuid on the passing of their grandmother May. My thoughts go to all the family for their loss.
    I knew May since I was a child and can say she was truly a lovely person and she will be missed by all her family her friends and her neighbours.
    May she rest in peace.

  41. Thanks for that link WJ Clerkin article is very good but he is only writing what other people around the country are saying openly. Off the playing field Mayo GAA are a joke. Not today or yesterday I am afraid. Just pick a decade and role a very funny tape. I disagree it driven by emotion or passion and I believe it is a mistake to label it as such. J H painted the very real picture for us all of where we are at, during his last tenure . A great leader formed a band of hero’s back in early 2011 and we have enjoyed the fruits of their talents and labour ever since. But the reality is they were in the wrong county all along.

  42. The situation with the ladies football in this county is very sad. It has turned into a real soap. It’s no longer about ladies football and it is all about everything else. The losers here are the ladies who play football in the county. Those who had a football mandate to organise the game in a proper manner in the county have failed.

  43. TBH it’s over simplistic to label Mayo a basket case. If the contributors to this blog, many of whom I’m sure contribute at club level, are anything to go by, then the heart is in the right place. Since 2011 they have been the only team capable of giving Dublin a decent game of it. My advice is, continue to invest in the youth, and work through academies/development panels. I read an article recently by Martin Breheny setting out the now standard application process, for any prospective IC manager. John Maughan had to go through all kinds of hoops to get the Offaly job. But that is the time for any prospective manager to ensure he gets everything he wants included.. No point coming back at a later stage. I’d also have confidence in Connelly to work with the obvious best candidate in the field – no gibbers in Hollymount..

  44. Just reading through the comments here re the Minor Championship. All four games looked very well matched with 1, 3, 5 & 6 points separating the teams in the four games. Charlestown vs Castlebar was an absolute cracking game. Total football played from start to finish, a draw would have been a fair result.

  45. No Mayo, in the Ladies All Ireland Senior Final, and Looks like NO record attendance either! Despite the superb efforts of TG4 and Lidl…. With all that’s wrong currently in the GAA , It’s time the Nation woke up, and realized the phenomenal support that Mayo actually has…. It’s a power base, that hasn’t been utilized to it’s maximum in defense of our Counties interest in recent years! It’s past time to put our house in order, I both the Men’s and Ladies side of things, and with the support We enjoy Nothing would be impossible to us!

  46. You spoke too soon there, Leantimes – it was announced at half-time that the record has been broken, with 50,141 at HQ today. Impressive crowd, for sure – great to see at a ladies final.

  47. Really entertaining game between Achill and Kilmeena. Achill were fortunate with their 2nd goal and the game could have gone right to the wire without it. Should be a good final against Balla.

    Mayo GAA tv have really improved their service as well. No breaks in transmission at all and they have replays of every score. A super service!

  48. I know I spoke too Willie Joe,. But the Hill is empty, the top level of the Hogan is Empty, plenty of Empty seat’s to be seen… But congrats to the LGFA, Lidl and TG4 ..50K+ is an amazing attendance, some day soon Croke Park will be full for an All Ireland Final,. Hopefully Mayo will be playing and winning that day!

  49. I think we’re in for a seriously good Junior A final in two weeks. There won’t be much to separate Balla and Achill…

  50. Comhgairdeas do foireann Acla. Bhi siad tharr bharr. It has to be said it was a good game of football, very clean and sporting. Achill put up a big score in the first 20 min and the opposition were struggling. I though that Stephen Grealis, Keane, Lavelle, Cooney, Doran and the 2 Michael D along with captean Denis McNamara were excellent. My man of the match was Jonathan Fadian. It was a very entertaining game and Kilmena are a good team and they will be back. It should be an excellent final v Balla.
    Go neiri le foireann Acla
    Acaill abu!

  51. There was a lad called Keith Joyce playing for rice college this year from kilmeena. He seemed to be putting up big scores as one of their main forwards. I didn’t see him named on the kilmeena squad yesterday though? Maybe he’s still u16 or something? Normally a schools player at that level would be involved with his club junior side?

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