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All-Ireland champions put their county title on the line.
All-Ireland champions Corofin’s incredible undefeated streak in the Galway senior football championship now stretches back over 50 games. They put their record on the line against a Salthill-Knocknacarra side that blends youth with experience.
Last years finalists Tuam Stars are up against surprise package CLG Bhearna, while 2018 finalists Mountbellew-Moylough play Killannin. The final tie sees Moycullen face the Mervue based St.James GAA.
Claregalway Hotel Senior Football Championship quarter-finals
Corofin v Salthill-Knocknacarra: Saturday 12th, Pearse Stadium @2:30pm
Corofin set down a marker in their opening group game with a 27 point hammering of last years Intermediate All-Ireland winners Oughterard. They followed that up with comfortable wins over Monevia-Abbey and An Cheathrú Rua. The depth of Kevin O’Brien’s squad was also well illustrated as former All-Stars Dathai Burke and Ian Burke both made cameos off the bench. Few county teams, nevermind club sides can boast such depth of quality in their squad.
Salthill were less convincing as they plotted their way out of their group. A win, defeat and draw in that order saw them claim second spot in their pool behind group winners Bearna. An apparent score-keeping error in their favour in their final group game against An Spidéal saw the game finish 0-16 v 1-13 rather than a one-point defeat. Salthill have a largely youthful team mixed with club stalwarts like Finian Hanley and Sean Armstrong. When they click, as they did in their opening-round win over St.Michaels (3-13 v 0-10), they can be formidable opponents. Robert Finnerty, son of their current manager and former Mayo star Anthony, is top scorer for the club with 1-14 so far. Tomo and Paddy Culhane have also chipped in on the scoring stakes.
The sides met at the semi-final stage last year. On that occasion, Corofin won an entertaining game by 1-16 to 2-09. However, on the evidence of what we have seen from both sides thus far in this campaign, Salthill have been too inconsistent and it would take an incredible performance for them to dethrone the holders.
Tuam Stars v CLG Bhearna: Saturday 12th, Pearse Stadium @5:30pm
The Stars came within seconds of clinching a surprise win in last years drawn county final. A superb display saw them two points up against the Corofin as the clock ticked into the red. Two late Gary Sice frees salvaged a draw for Kevin O’Brien’s side who went on to win the County final replay. They then powered on all the way to Croke Park to lift a third successive Andy Merrigan cup.
Tommy Carton’s side looked to have a hangover from that replay defeat as they slumped to a surprise two-point loss in their opening group game against Caherlistrane. Tuam bounced back with wins over Killannin (0-14 v 1-09) and Claregalway (1-18 v 1-12) to reach the knock-out stages again this year.
Bearna have proved to be the surprise package of this year’s championship in Galway. Starting the campaign as one of the favourites for the drop to Intermediate, they caused a big shock with an opening-round win over Salthill-Knocknacarra. Sean Conlon’s side then backed that performance up with further wins over St.Michael’s (0-13 v0-11) and An Spidéal (2-07 v 0-10) to top their group.
Free taker Donal Ó Cualáin leads the way in the scoring stakes with 2-14 (1 pen, 10f), while Tom Curran and Oisin Gormally have also chipped in.
Mountbellew-Moylough v Killannin: Sunday 12th, Pearse Stadium @2:30pm
Mountbellew-Moylough won their opening two rounds of group games to nail down a quarter-final spot. Annaghdown were defeated by 1-07 v 0-08 before Mícheál Breathnach’s were accounted for on a scoreline of 0-22 v 2-07. Val Daly’s side took their foot off the gas somewhat in their final group game as Moycullen cruised to a 4-14 v 1-09 win over the men in black and amber.
The retirement of club stalwart Joe Bergin, along with injury ruling John Daly out until the new year, was a blow to one of the few clubs capable of presenting a stiff challenge to Corofin. However, there is still plenty of quality in this squad. Barry McHugh has notched up 16 points so far, while Michael Daly, Patrick Kelly and Eoin Finnerty have also helped keep the scoreboard ticking over.
It’s twenty years since Killannin have reached a county final. Frank Noone’s charges have reached this stage thanks to wins in rounds 1 & 3. A narrow 0-11 v 0-10 win over Claregalway was followed up with a two-point defeat against last years finalists Tuam Stars (1-09 v 0-14). A 1-13 to 2-07 win over Carherlistrane in their final pool game clinched second spot in their pool behind Tuam. County stars Johnny Heaney and Patrick Sweeney are their main scoring threats to date.
Mountbellew overcame Killannin by four points when the sides met in last years’ championship. They look to have the stronger side to repeat that feat again this year.
Moycullen v St.James: Sunday 12th, Pearse Stadium @5:30pm
Moycullen (Maigh Cuilinn) will be looking to secure a semi-final spot for a second year running. They lost out to Tuam Stars at the penultimate stage last year and Don Connellan’s side will be looking to get another bite at reaching a county final for the first time since the 1970’s. Standing in their way are St.James’.
Moycullen have racked up big scores en-route to the quarter-final. They have found the net 11 times in their three matches. Mícheal Breathnach’s (3-12 v 1-06), Annaghdown (4-09 v 2-14) and Mountbellew-Moylough (4-14 v 1-09) were all defeated on their way to top of group 2. Dessie Conneely has racked up an impressive 3-16 and Conor Bohan has notched 4-03.
One crucial battle could be Johnny Duane against Dessie Conneely as St. James look to nullify Moycullen main attacking threat. This may somewhat stifle Duane’s own attacking instincts that have see him chip in with 1-01 from wing-back.
St. James, captained by Eoin Concannon, have shown great form so far this campaign. Last year saw them in a battle to stave off relegation. This year wins over Milltown (3-20 v 2-16) and Oughterard (3-16 v 1-14) were enough to clinch a quarter-final spot after an opening round defeat to Cararoe (0-15 v 1-10).
County star Paul Conroy has led the way with 20 points (14f), while Concannon (1-09) and Aaron Connolly 2-04 have also contributed handsomely.