Saturday night fever to hit Castlebar

Story by John Melvin

Friday, 19th October, 2018 2:21pm

Saturday night fever to hit Castlebar

Tactical battle between managers Peter Ford (Breaffy) and Kevin Johnson (Ballintubber), pictured here, will be intriguing.

SATURDAY night fever is about to hit Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar, where a bumper crowd is expected for the first ever meeting of Ballintubber and Breaffy in a county senior football final.

The prize is the Moclair Cup, a trophy which has rested on three previous occasions in Ballintubber, most recently 2014 when they beat Castlebar to claim the title.

They also did back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011, Castlebar Mitchels coming out the wrong side on both occcasions, and, of course, it was Castlebar - the four-in-a-row-seeking champions - who crashed yet again to the Abbeysiders in this year's semi-final, which went to extra-time and a replay.

But there is a huge air of confidence, excitement and expectancy in Breaffy, who feel this is going to be their year.

Twice they lost out in their bid to win a first ever county title, crashing to Castlebar Mitchels in both 2013 and 2015.

Under manager Peter Ford the belief is that Breaffy are now a lot more savvy and experienced while, inevitably, the O'Shea brothers (Seamus, Aidan and Conor) are likely to feature prominently if victory is to be achieved.

This is a better Breaffy team in my view than both 2013 and 2015. Significantly, they have a very strong and mobile midfield partnership in Matthew Ruane and Peter Dravins and this will give Aidan O'Shea the opportunity to use his considerable physique on the edge of the sqaure to unhinge that Ballintubber defence. If that works, then Breaffy must stand a great chance.

However, guile, cuteness, cleverness - call it what you will - Ballintubber have it all in abundance with a team that has taken out the defending champions and are odds-on to land their fourth title.

If awards were being handed out at local level, then Diarmuid O'Connor is a shoe-in for the club player of the year accolade, given his consistently high level of performances and the enormous contribution he has made to Ballintubber's journey to the final.

Cillian O'Connor has been shooting the lights out with his freetaking this season and it was his scores which ultimately helped Ballintubber to a replay against Castlebar Mitchels.

The sides have already met in this year's championship but couldn't be seperated in the group stages, which finished all square (Ballintubber 1-10, Breaffy 0-13).

Don't rule out another replay in what has been an intriguing championship, but my money goes on Ballintubber who look a little bit more balanced and have played the best football in this year's title race.

The intermediate final between Burrishoole and Belmullet will provide a fascinating curtain raiser to the main event. It starts at 6 p.m., with the senior final down for 8 p.m.

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