Focus on – Senior C’ship Section 1

Welcome to the first instalement of our extensive championship previews. Between now and the first round of championship next weekend, we’ll be taking a group by group look at every section in the Senior and Intermediate championship. First up its Senior Section 1 – Charlestown, Castlebar, Garrymore and Aghamore.

There’s something of a contradiction in the names of the clubs here. The word ‘more’ deriving from the Irish ‘mor’ meaning big doesn’t fit in with Garrymore and Aghamore. For they are two small, rural clubs hoping to punch above their weight against the town teams of Charlestown and Castlebar.

Garrymore have, for years, defied the size of their area – a half parish with Hollymount – by staying senior against the odds and, in the heydays of the 1970s and 1980s, being the best club team in the county. Aghamore enjoyed heady days in those years too but, currently, neither are considered championship contenders. Castlebar and Charlestown are.

So this group is cut and dried? Well, not quite. Aghamore have been a coming team for a number of years – winning the county Junior title in 2005 and the Intermediate last year. They have been unfortunate to lose many of their players to emigration – most of whom were part of Keith Higgins’ travelling group – but they have a very good group of minors from the past two years coming on stream.

CONVEYOR BELT: Cathal Freeman is but one of the good talents coming through from underage at Aghamore.

CONVEYOR BELT: Cathal Freeman is but one of the good talents coming through from underage at Aghamore.

We may have seen Caoimhin Carty and Alan and Cathal Freeman (no relation) play for Mayo minors in the last two years but other young players like Robert Lyons, Enda Sweeney, Iarla Carthy and Liam Groarke offer a good range. Their overall age profile is very young so they will be a team to keep an eye on. This year might be more about establishing themselves at senior but in two years, with the likes of the Freemans (add Adrian to Cathal and Alan), the Carty’s (add in Cathal and Eamon to Caoimhin and Iarla), Colm Forde, Simon McGuinness, Sean Og Robinson and the returning Dessie Campbell  all serious players, they could be contenders in time.

And then there’s Garrymore. It is amazing that they have managed to stay senior over the past six years with so many of their established players like Michael Coleman, Tony Corcoran, Danny and TJ McHugh et al falling by the wayside. For a few years they had to cope  with just scraps of talent coming through but, almost by sheer force of will, they kept their senior status.

Now, they could be in a position to capitalise. Outstaning young players like Trevor and Shane Nally, David Dolan, Mark Tierney and Enda Varley are class acts and Garrymore’s overall ability to be able to stand up and fight for everything make them a formiddable foe.

ONE TO WATCH: Many people think Enda Varley should be in the Mayo squad. How he plays for Garrymore in the club championnship will interest many.

ONE TO WATCH: Many people think Enda Varley should be in the Mayo squad. How he plays for Garrymore in the club championnship will interest many.

Charlestown have to travel to Garry’ in Round 2 and they’ll know all about it after that game. Castlebar and Aghamore will take nothing for granted in their home clashes either. They could be the fly in the ointment yet.

And what of the apparent ‘big two’ in this group?

Charlestown have went oh so close in the last two years. County final defeats in 2007 and 2008 have to have hurt and like any sporting setback the question is this – in what manner will they bounce back? Will the defeats spur them on and let them know they’re very close to the top? Or will they have etched away at their confidence and remove some conviction from their play? Time will tell but Charlestown’s biggest problem remains – the lack of scoring forwards.

Paul Mulligan will be a key man – his freetaking this year has been exemplary so far but that will need to remain constant. And his brother Anthony will need to see a return to the form of 2007 when he was among the top scorers in the championship.

Outside of that Charlestown have the platform for success. Ginger Tiernan and Tom Parsons offer the best club midfield in the county while the defence is riddled with talent – Aidan and Dermot Higgins, Enda Casey, Kevin Deignan and David Caffrey all have county experience.

If the likes of forwards Richie Haran and Mickey Divilly – both mercurial talents – can add consistency to their repoirtre then Charlestown will be formiddable. Other than that they might struggle to win games against teams they may be able to dominate in every facet but the scoreboard.

Funnily enough much of the same problems affect Castlebar Mitchels. Not since the mid 1990s have they had a top class club full-forward line. Like Charlestown they have a strong midfield. Any two from Shane Fitzmaurice, Richie Feeney, Alan Nolan, Barry Moran, Darragh Sloyan, Pat Kelly and Tom Cunniffe could play in midfield while the four that don’t will offer very good options in the half-forward line and half-back line.

Barry Moran is probably the exception. The abundance of midfield options should facilitate Peter Ford placing the Mayo man in a similar role for club as county – full-forward. Richie Feeney, too, is out suspended.

Rory O’Grady is a big loss to the club at full-back but they have been boosted by the return of Alan Feeney. A bonus too is the acquisitions of Kiltimagh’s Darragh Sloyan and Kilmaine’s Pat Kelly.

NEW SIGNING: Pictured here in the colours of St Vincent's of Marino, Dublin, with whom he won a Club All-Ireland, Kilmaine native Pat Kelly has thrown his lot in with Castlebar Mitchels this year.

NEW SIGNING: Pictured here in the colours of St Vincent's of Marino, Dublin, with whom he won a Club All-Ireland, Kilmaine native Pat Kelly has thrown his lot in with Castlebar Mitchels this year.

But where will the scores come from? County U-21 corner-forward Neil Douglas could be a huge player for Mitchels (huge in the metaphorical sense, of course, as Douglas will probably be the Mitchels’ smallest player). His pace and cuteness around goal will be of benefit while he should enjoy playing off Barry Moran.

A glance at the Mitchels team from their victory over Aghamore shows an interesting option for the other corner. County minor star from 2008 (and still underage this year) Aidan Walsh struck 1-2 from corner-forward. He has Leaving Cert. concerns coming up so that could (should) affect his participation in the first round game against Charlestown.

But by high summer Mitchels might begin to motor. Time, like I always say, will be the best judge.

We can look at league results for form guides. Charlestown are in Division 1A with the other three teams in 1B. The Sarsfields are in second place behind Ballinrobe – the only team to beat them.

One tier below its Aghamore who are best place with three wins from five games, Castlebar have two wins from four while Garry’ have two from five. Mitchels defeats though are the most tolerable seeing as they came against Claremorris and Ballintubber – two of the form teams in the county.

While we won’t completely dismiss Garrymore and Aghamore – particularly Garry’ – we’re going to go for Charlestown and Castlebar to advance but it won’t be straightforward.

Ginger on the go: David 'Ginger' Tiernan is still going strong for Charlestown and will be hoping to lead them back to a county title for the first time since 2001.

Ginger on the go: David 'Ginger' Tiernan is still going strong for Charlestown and will be hoping to lead them back to a county title for the first time since 2001.

The Garrymore Aghamore first round game has actually been put back to June 14 because of the Connacht Junior final (don’t get me started!), which some Aghamore players are involved in. So only Charlestown and Castlebar will get their championship season off and running next weekend. It will be an interesting clash in Charlestown and we reckon Mitchels could do the business.

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1 Response to “Focus on – Senior C’ship Section 1”


  1. 1 Willie Joe May 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Excellent stuff, TIALTNGO – keep it coming!


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