Focus on: Senior C’ship Section 3

Section 3 – Ballaghaderreen, Breaffy, Shrule/Glencorrib and Burrishoole.

The third part of our championship preview series continues with a look at Section 3, the home of defending champions Ballaghaderreen.

For the second year running they’re in the same group as Shrule/Glencorrib and Breaffy, with Burrishoole replacing Kiltane from last year’s grouping.

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID: Conor Mortimer is set to have a big hand in Section 3 - no pun intended!

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID: Conor Mortimer is set to have a big hand in Section 3 - no pun intended!

When the draw was made Ballagh’ and Breaffy would have been seen as the two teams most likely to progress but the latter side have had a terrible league campaign up to now, losing their first five games. All of which blows the battle for the second spot wide open.

Ballagh’ entertain Breaffy in the first game, most likely in Charlestown – Ballagh’ have been playing their home games there, we think they’re developing their own pitch. It would take a major turnaround in form for Breaffy to win that one and while they haven’t become a bad team overnight, we think Ballagh’ might have too much in store for them.

But the battle between Shrule/Glencorrib and Burrishoole in Shrule is another matter altogether. Shrule have been going reasonably well in the league. They’ve beaten Breaffy and Westport, drawn with Charlestown and, interestingly, Burrishoole, and lost to Ballagh’. So they’ve had a chance to evaluate each of their group opponents.

Burrishoole, for their part, have managed to defeat Moy Davitts, draw with Shrule and lose to Ballina, Westport and Ballinrobe – weaker form than Shrule. What will work in their favour for playing Shrule first is very simple – Conor Mortimer is injured.

The Mayo star’s broken hand is a keenly felt loss for his club, whom he does serious scoring damage for. Mark Ronaldson and Trevor Mortimer will be expected, once more, to make up for his absence. Trevor is not someone we associate with scoring power for Mayo but he has managed to do this for the club this year.

Further back Shrule have some good players in the shape of Kieran Conroy, Dermot Geraghty and Ronan Walsh.

SCORING POWER: Much of the responsibility for scores for Burrishoole will fall on the shoulders of county U-21 star Jason Doherty.

SCORING POWER: Much of the responsibility for scores for Burrishoole will fall on the shoulders of county U-21 star Jason Doherty.

Burrishoole will expect a lot of Mayo U-21’s Jason Doherty in the full-forward line while Adrian McManamon, his ageless uncle Colm, Alan Moran, Mayo corner-back Liam O’Malley and former Mayo corner-back Conor Moran are serious players further back.

Both teams might struggle for enough scores to win so this could become a war of attrition. We reckon Burrishoole will run them close but Mark Ronaldson could have the bit of class required to separate the teams.

All of which will lead to a huge game in Breaffy in Round 2 when the hosts welcome Shrule. The winners will be in great shape for progess. Will Breaffy, presuming they had lost to Ballagh’, be able to rise to a big challenge? Aidan O’Shea will be their big player but if his brother Seamus and former County players Alan Durcan and Marty McNicholas can share the workload, Breaffy might be able to bounce back.

Shrule will have Conor Mortimer back so a classic could be in store. We think Breaffy may just edge it.

Ballagh’, who will have Andy Moran and Barry Regan to take the scores and Barry Kelly, Stephen Drake and David Kilcullen to form a fine spine down the middle, should take care of Burrishoole.

KEY MAN: If Marty McNicholas can deliver, Breaffy can progress.

KEY MAN: If Marty McNicholas can deliver, Breaffy can progress.

All of which leaves Breaffy needing to beat Burrishoole in the final round to keep their chances of progressing realisticallly alive. But if Shrule managed to beat Ballaghaderreen, and we’ve a sneaking suspicion they might, we’d have three teams level on four points and scoring difference would have to be used to separate the three teams.

Don’t talk to Shrule/Glencorrib about scoring difference – it has cost them a place in the quarters in 2006 and 2007 and last year they were only denied a quarter-final place by a last minute Breaffy eqauliser against Ballaghaderreen.

We’re going for a long shot here and predicting Ballagh’ and Breaffy to progress on scoring difference ahead of Shrule. Why? Because Shrule will be in a low scoring contest with Burrishoole. Breaffy and Ballagh’ may not.

But we’ve been wrong before!

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