Mayo SFC: Defending champions Knockmore out after Castlebar defeat

Defending champions Knockmore saw their dreams of winning three Mayo SFC titles in a row dashed by Castlebar Mitchels in Sunday’s quarter-final
Mayo SFC: Defending champions Knockmore out after Castlebar defeat

ON THE BURST: Castlebar Mitchels’ Donnacha McHugh races by Adam Naughton of Knockmore.

Defending champions Knockmore saw their dreams of winning three Mayo SFC titles in a row dashed by Castlebar Mitchels in Sunday’s quarter-final.

The holders were pipped by a point (0-12 to 0-11) by the home side at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park and exited the championship after a dramatic finale.

Seven points from Mitchels’ young attacker Ethan Gibbons proved decisive as Castlebar issued a strong statement of intent ahead of a semi-final clash with Westport.

Four first half scores from the aforementioned Gibbons helped Mitchels to lead by 0-7 to 0-4 at the interval and, while Knockmore always stayed within striking distance, they were unable to get sharpshooters like Peter Naughton and Darren McHale into the game.

An Anthony O’Boyle effort pushed Castlebar ahead by 0-12 to 0-9, and it looked like the team managed by former Mayo midfielder Barry Moran and Neil Lydon would kick on.

But they failed to score for the last 15 minutes and Knockmore came roaring back with late points from their best attacker, Aidan Orme, and Peter Naughton (free) to set up a dramatic finale.

However, the defending champions were unable to break down Castlebar’s defence to find an equaliser and Mitchels held on to set up a local derby clash with Westport in the last four.

They booked their place in the semi-final with a 0-13 to 0-11 victory over Garrymore on Saturday in the first of the quarter-finals.

Man of the match Oisin McLaughlin and Conal Dawson contributed nine points between them as Westport withstood a late Garrymore rally to advance.

They were 0-11 to 0-7 ahead when McLaughlin and Mayo panellist Fionn McDonagh were both sent off midway through the second half after being booked twice.

Garry’ made their numerical advantage count with points from frees from Darren Quinn (2) and Mark Gibbons to leave the bare minimum between the sides in the closing stages.

But with Lee Keegan becoming increasingly influential, Westport held their nerve and late points from substitute Alan Kennedy (free) and the aforementioned Conal Dawson saw Martin Connolly’s team ease into the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, Mayo star Cillian O’Connor produced a man of the match performance as Ballintubber advanced to the Mayo SFC semi-finals for the first time since 2019.

O’Connor returned from injury to shoot 1-4 as Ballintubber beat Breaffy by 2-11 to 0-14 in Sunday’s quarter-final in Castlebar.

The ‘Tubber came out on top despite having midfielder Jason Gibbons red carded during the second half, as a goal from Ciaran Gavin gave them a lead they never relinquished.

O’Connor’s 24th minute goal helped Ballintubber to lead by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break and Breaffy never got into any sort of a rhythm up front with only Tommy O’Reilly, Davitt Neary and substitute Colm Flynn making any impression on the scoreboard.

The ‘Tubber have been drawn against Ballina Stephenites in the last four.

The North Mayo side hammered Claremorris by 4-13 to 0-7 earlier on Sunday.

First half goals from Dylan Thornton and Evan Regan set them up for a half-time lead of 2-6 to 0-2 and late goals from Frank Irwin and Regan capped a comfortable victory.

All four Mayo SFC semi-finals will be played on the weekend after next.

Elsewhere, Andy Moran signed off in style on his first senior championship appearance for Ballaghaderreen in Saturday’s relegation play-off win over Davitts.

The former Footballer of the Year scored 3-3 as he went out on a high.

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