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.