County football championship about to get interesting

Michael Meehan’s Caltra face a tricky test against Moycullen in the Galway SFC.

Michael Meehan’s Caltra face a tricky test against Moycullen in the Galway SFC.

With Galway's 44th Connacht title secured, all focus switches to club action next weekend as the Claregalway Hotel Galway SFC resumes. There are no more second chances for the 18 sides that remain in contention for the Frank Fox Cup. In total, seven senior ties are down for decision including the eagerly awaited clash of Caltra and Moycullen, while county champions Killererin take on Cortoon Shamrocks in the weekend's other stand-out tie.

On Saturday evening, Pearse Stadium is the venue for the championship's two remaining 'backdoor' qualifier matches. Galway SFC roll of honour leaders Tuam Stars take on a Killanin side whose form in 2008 has been disappointing to date, with the victor scheduled to meet Corofin a week later. Mountbellew-Moylough await the winners of the tie between Moycullen and Caltra, who are bidding to qualify for the quarter-final stage for the sixth consecutive season.

Despite operating without key defensive members from their All-Ireland intermediate title-winning side, Moycullen produced some superb football before eventually succumbing to Killererin last time out. Caltra, who fell to Pete Warren's in-form Caherlistrane in the first round, have recorded some comprehensive league victories in recent weeks and look to be coming into form.

Cyril Ryan's Kilkerrin-Clonberne take on last year's county finalists Milltown in Tuam Stadium on Saturday evening. It was at this stage of the championship in 2007 that Milltown announced themselves as live contenders for the county title when impressively accounting for Corofin.

However, Tom McManus' side have failed to scale the same heights so far this season. Their opponents enter the tie on the back of the extra-time qualifier victory over Barna and bid to advance to their first ever championship quarter-final.

In all, there are four second round ties scheduled for Sunday. Claregalway, featuring Galway midfielder Barry Cullinane and St Jarlath’s star Danny Cummins, take on An Cheathru Rua who enter this tie with impressive form having previously defeated Micheal Breathnach in a keenly contested Connemara derby.

An NUIG side with vast potential meet Micheal Breathnach, who will be keen to avenge last year's championship quarter-final defeat to the students. Matthew Clancy is an injury doubt for NUIG, however fellow Galway panellists Eddie Hoare, Mark Gottsche and Fiachra Breathnach are available to manager Eoin O'Donnellan.

Player availability is a concern as a number of the squad will be involved in Saturday's All-Ireland SFC 'backdoor' qualifer games while key personnel may also be unavailable due to the scheduling of a full round of club fixtures in Mayo.

Salthill-Knocknacarra's season has yet to truly get off the ground. While they comfortably defeated Killanin in the first round, PJ Kelly's side have yet to record a league victory in Division 1A.

The former All-Ireland club champions will be firm favourites to overcome a youthful Monivea/Abbey side that out-battled Tuam Stars in the championship's opening tie. Killererin continue the defence of their county title against Cortoon Shamrocks, in a clash that is sure to draw a sizeable crowd to Tuam Stadium on Sunday evening. Already without Galway minor star Colin Forde, the county champions have concerns over the fitness of Nicky Joyce, who departed the action prematurely in Castlebar. All attention will be on Padraic Joyce whose blistering form for club and county in 2008 shows no sign of abating. Cortoon Shamrocks, with Derek Savage, David Finnegan, and David Warde in their ranks, are sure to provide a formidable challenge in what is undoubtedly the clash of the weekend.The IFC also continues this weekend. St Michael's take on Caherlistrane in a repeat of their first round tie that was narrowly won by the city side. In Menlough, the replay between Oranmore-Maree and Corofin precedes the clash of St James, with Galway star Paul Conroy on board, and Glenamaddy.

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