Kirby strike shoots down O'Hara troops as Mitchels earn date with champions
Castlebar Mitchels 1-13 Tourlestrane 0-9
A powerful second half and Danny Kirby's late goal saw Castlebar Mitchels into the final, where they will face Galway champions Corofin in a re-run of the decider two years ago.
The sides also met in last year's semi-final, which Corofin won.
The Mayo men face into the final after coming through a significant test from Eamonn O'Hara's Tourlestrane.
After a first half with a powerful wind at their backs, Tourlestrane were well in contention and level at 0-7 each.
However, despite taking the lead after the restart, they fell away abruptly as Castlebar forced weakening opponents to submit.
David Stenson kept his side in touch with five first-half points, Neil Douglas slotted three long-range frees after the break, while Kirby's goal with eight minutes left was the killer blow.
"I thought at that stage we looked very comfortable," said Castlebar manager Declan Shaw.
"We were three points ahead and I think we were controlling the game fairly well. The goal was a great break, a turnover deep in our own half and I think once that goal went in the game was over as a contest.
"We played Tourlestrane last year and I think they are a well improved side since then. They were very, very defensive last year but they also had a real attacking threat this year too, breaking at pace. It was tough there in the first half for us; we had to dig deep."
There is no doubt that Tourlestrane are heading in the right direction, and if they could have sustained the standard they showed for 40 minutes for another ten at least they would been a far bigger threat.
They were disciplined in their structure, soaked plenty of bodies behind the ball, attacked rapidly in large numbers and then fought hard to regain possession whenever they lost it.
A couple of points from Liam Gaughan and John Kelly gave the Sligo men a great start, but with Stenson accurate from placed balls Mitchels kept in touch.
The Tourlestrane blueprint was clear after 20 minutes when Alan Dunne broke down the left following a quick free from his captain James Leonard, and Dunne swung over a great point on the run.
Unfortunately for the Sligo champions, they rarely saw those chances as Mitchels ramped up their own defensive efforts in the second half.
Castlebar scored eight points from placed balls, and according to Tourlestrane boss O'Hara, his side struggled to cope with the way the game was refereed.
"These experienced teams get away with a lot of cute stuff, the smart stuff. We are trying to instil it in our game in Sligo," said O'Hara.
"The game is officiated completely different in Sligo where you cannot put your hand on a fella.
"Here it's very much hands-on; it's physical; it's in your face and it comes down to the referee's discretion whether he's going to pull it or not on the day.
"Any time we tried to put the aggression in we got pulled for it and any time it was done to us we weren't getting any results.
"Overall I'm bitterly disappointed with the referee's performance, I'll be straight in saying that. But I don't blame the referee either, Castlebar are a wonderful team and they are going to really test whoever they meet in the final."
Egan's fourth free gave Tourlestrane the lead after half-time and at that point they looked really comfortable at the grade. But they conceded 1-6 without reply over a 27-minute spell, which saw the fight slowly seep away from them.
Kirby's goal came following a strong turnover deep in Mitchels territory, and after a quick break away, James Durcan sent him in on goal and he finished calmly. But he also kicked a couple of fine points from play, including his team's first from wide on the right, and another huge score from the left side, which opened out a two-point lead for his side, moments after Tourlestrane substitute John Francis Carr flashed a shot wide at the other end.
In the closing moments of the game Tourlestrane's Liam Gaughan was shown a straight red card following an off the ball incident with Mitchels defender Donie Newcombe, but a good score from James Leonard was all Tourlestrane could manage in the closing stages. After matching the Mitchels for so long, they finished a long way behind.
Scorers - Castlebar Mitchels: D Stenson 0-6 (5f), D Kirby 1-2, N Douglas 0-3 (2f, 1'45), A Dunne 0-2, P Durcan, J Durcan 0-1. Tourlestrane: B Egan 0-4 (4f), J Leonard, L Gaughan, G Gaughan, J Kelly 0-1.
Castlebar Mitchels - R Byrne (c); J Maughan, G McDonagh, D Newcombe; N McCarney, E O'Reilly, P Durcan; A Walsh, B Moran; J Durcan, D Kirby, C Costello; D Stenson, N Douglas, R O'Malley. Subs: S Irwin for Maughan 43 bc, S Hopkins for McCarney 52, A O'Boyle for Moran 55, M Towey for P Durcan 57, C Stenson for Costello 59.
Tourlestrane - A Bowens; C Neary, B Walsh, N Gaughan; G Gaughan, S Dunne, J Leonard (c); S Henry, A McIntyre; A Dunne, B Egan, C Henry; J Kelly, P Harte, L Gaughan. Subs: JF Carr for S Henry 30, J Quinn for Harte 44, C Marren for S Dunne 49, J Marren for Kelly 50.
Ref - J Molloy (Galway).