It’s a big weekend of club championship action at provincial level, with the winners of all three football titles within the county seeking to progress at provincial level while Tooreen fly the flag for the small ball code.
Ballintubber came through an ultra-cagey preliminary round tie last weekend against Sligo champions Tourlestrane and on Sunday they face Leitrim’s Aughawillan in the Connacht SFC semi-final. That game throws in at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon, on Sunday at 1.30pm.
While Ballintubber are strong favourites to advance on Sunday – Paddy Power price them at 1/6 – they’d do well to be wary of Aughawillan’s challenge. Club football can often be a great leveller – Castlebar struggled for long stretches when playing Leitrim champions Mohill twelve months ago – and Aughawillan come into Sunday’s tie fresher than their opponents, following a four-week break after their Leitrim county title win.
Still, you’d expect the Mayo lads to have enough quality in their ranks to make it through this test. Assuming they do, they’ll face the winners of Corofin and Clann na nGael in the provincial final. Those two meet in Sunday’s other SFC semi-final, which gets underway at Hyde Park at 1.30pm that afternoon.
It’s Connacht semi-final weekend in the Intermediate football championship as well. Belmullet face An Spidéal in an all-Gaeltacht clash tomorrow, where Tuam Stadium is the venue. The winners there will face the victors of the Shamrock Gaels (Sligo) vs. Fuerty (Roscommon) semi-final, which is down for decision on Sunday at Collooney. Both IFC semi-finals throw in at 1.30pm.
There’s also penultimate round action in the Connacht Junior football championship this weekend. Balla take on Sligo’s Easkey tomorrow at Quigibar while on Sunday Clonbur (Naomh Padraig, An Fhairche) of Galway face off against Kilglass Gaels from Roscommon at Tuam Stadium. Both of these fixtures throw in at 1.30pm.
Finally, Tooreen took to the skies this afternoon as they jetted off to London ahead of their Connacht IHC semi-final. There they’ll meet London Senior hurling champions St Gabriel’s at McGovern Park in Ruislip tomorrow at 1pm.
It’s the first time for a Mayo club hurling side to play a competitive match outside of Ireland, after the introduction of London clubs into the Connacht club championships this year. St Gabriel’s will be strong favourites for this tie, having disposed of Robert Emmett’s in the London Senior final a fortnight ago.
Incidentally, St Gabriel’s – who are based near Wembley – were set up in the 1960s by a group of Galway men. They still have a strong Galway connections, with ten of their starting fifteen for tomorrow hailing from the county.
Tooreen qualified for this stage of the Connacht IHC with a 0-17 to 1-9 win over Athleague of Roscommon. Tooreen – who are managed by Paul Hunt – will need an improved performance to overcome the London champions. The winners of this tie will face Oranmore-Maree of Galway in the Connacht IHC final, after Oranmore defeated Kilconeiron in Galway’s IHC final last weekend.
Best of luck to all of the Mayo sides in provincial championship action this weekend.
This post was compiled with the help of information contained in Brían Mangan’s preview piece for Connacht GAA (here) and using preview material supplied by Adrian Hession, Mayo GAA Games Promotion Officer.