Tuesday 20 February 2018

Castlebar's time to land big prize has arrived

Barry Moran, Castlebar Mitchels (SPORTSFILE)
Barry Moran, Castlebar Mitchels (SPORTSFILE)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Castlebar Mitchels left Croke Park on St Patrick's Day 2014 knee-deep in frustration after failing to come anywhere near their best against St Vincent's.

The danger for a club in that situation is that the chance to redeem themselves may not come around again for a long time.

However, in Castlebar's case, they have had to wait only two years so they will be driven by a massive determination to get things right this time.

Once again, they are up against Dublin opposition in a Ballyboden side that defied the odds to land the county title last autumn before improving all the way in Leinster.

They were less impressive in the All-Ireland semi-final against Clonmel but, significantly, showed true grit to dig out a draw, before pressing on in extra-time.

Castlebar had to be equally resilient in their semi-final, recovering from a slow start against Crossmaglen to calmly and systematically work their way into the game before eventually edging to victory by a point.

Barry Moran was a hugely influential figure in a second half where there was a solid method to everything they did.

There's real energy about Ballyboden too, with Michael Darragh Macauley one of the main generators.

This will be closer than the odds suggest but it still likely that Castlebar will live up to the favourites' tag and capture the Andy Merrigan Cup for the first time.

Ballyboden St Enda's (Dublin) v Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo), Croke Park, 4.00pm, TG4

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