Second chance for Ballinrobe
THERE are big games and there are huge games. Saturday evening’s championship game against Knockmore is absolutely massive.
This Ballinrobe senior squad have been knocking on the door of the Mayo SFC quarter-finals for quite some time now (they nearly broke through of course last year), but nothing less than a win away to Knockmore will keep them in contention this summer.
The first round defeat at home to Breaffy was a big blow to our ambitions of reaching the knock-out stages, but that game is gone now. Gone, and best forgotten!
All that Ballinrobe supporters are hoping is that everyone involved has learned from the harsh lessons of last month and that a much-improved performance is delivered at the ‘Galatasaray’ of Mayo club football!
There are reasons to be cheerful ahead of our trip to St Joseph’s Park.
Our lads have bounced back from that poor display against Breaffy with Secondary League wins against Westport and Claremorris; okay, it’s not exactly the Champions League of Mayo GAA but it will have done confidence no harm and winning games is a good habit to get into.
Ray McGreal has also returned from his travels and will be a big addition. Unfortunately, Peter Staunton has left for his summer holidays so Ray’s return couldn’t have come at a better time.
Our captain Donal Vaughan also put in a big shift for Mayo last Sunday and it was great to see him back to himself ahead of such a crucial club game.
Plus, Mark Walkin is fit and well again and Paul Finno and Ronan Macken are also hoping to be right by 7pm on Saturday evening.
Norman O’Brien will need everyone firing on all cylinders if Knockmore are to be beaten on home ground. All our big guns (David Killeen, Sean Grimes, Donal Vaughan, Sean Burke and Micheál Keane) will have to win their individual battles and drive everyone else on to do the same.
Knockmore are serious, battle-hardened, experienced championship operators. But, as Kiltane showed down in Bangor in the first round, they are also beatable.
Trevor Howley is out injured and the county man will be a big loss. But they still have plenty of talent all around the field — Shane McHale at full-back, Declan Sweeney at six, Kevin McLoughlin could pop up anywhere, Aidan Kilcoyne and Damien Munnelly up front, plus Kevin O’Neill to come in off the bench — and won’t be afraid to use it.
However, if ever there was a time when Ballinrobe just needed to go and have ‘a right cut’ at a championship match then this is it. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Nobody outside of the group of players, management, club officers and some of the more optimistic fans are expecting anything. The bookmakers have written them off.
We wish our lads the very best. They have worked really hard all year to get ready for games like this and, with any luck, they will put in a big performance and leave nothing in the tank.
And, in the words of Mayo manager James Horan, ‘Let’s see where that takes us’!
Good luck lads!