Stars and Killererin favoured to advance
By Ray Silke
The Galway Senior Football Championshp resumes on Sunday with two mouth-watering semi-finals.
Tuam Stars up against county champions Corofin in Tuam Stadium at 2.30pm, followed by Salthill/Knocknacarra v Killererin at 4.15pm.
The first semi-final of the Claregalway Hotel and Bon Secours Hospital Senior Football Championship is a repeat of last year's county final which Corofin won. However the county champions have not been going well over the past few months and were fortunate to hold out against a determined and committed St James in the quarter-finals. They have an over-reliance on Alan O' Donovan up front for scores and, in that regard, the continued absence of Ronan Steede who is in Australia is sorely felt.
On Sunday they will look to the experienced Damien Burke, Joe Canney and Tomás Costello to add penetration to their attack.
Despite not having set the world alight thus far in the championship, they are an incredibly experienced outfit, with players like team captain Kieran Fitzgerald, county players Kieran McGrath, Gary Sice and Greg Higgins, and others like David Morris, Alan Burke, Mikey Comer and Padraig Kelly having seen plenty of championship action over the past decade.
The Stars are under the joint management of Jimmy O' Dea and Kevin Reidy this season and they have been hitting some good score-lines.
Former county goalkeeper Paul Doherty has been doing very well in the middle of the field and his ability to win primary possession has been capitalised on by the likes of Jamie Murphy, Shane Curtin, Shane Gaffney and the very talented Conor Doherty. Defensively they will look to the likes of Tony Costello, Aonghus Tierney and Gary O' Donnell to hold the line.
There is unlikely to be much between the sides and the bookies are offering an attractive 9/4 on the Stars going through to the final, with Corofin at 1/2.
Salthill/Knocknacarra v Killererin
Salthill/Knocknacarra v Killererin met in last year's county championship and the Seasiders gave an awful trimming to an off-form Killererin side.
However Salthill/Knocknacarra manager Gerry Hughes is expecting a much closer contest this weekend.
"Last year was a freak result. We got a few early scores and Killererin did not perform anywhere near to the level that they are capable of. They have some fantastic players and are a very experienced squad. We know that we will have to improve a lot on what we have produced so far in the championship if we are going to reach the final. No doubt Killererin will be well motivated by last year's loss and we have to be ready for that."
Hughes also points out that his team is down some key players from last year's victory.
"Our two midfielders from last year, John Boylan (overseas duty with the army) and Stephen O' Reilly (gone travelling for a year) are both unavailable and they are big losses. Aonghus Callanan is away too, and anyone who is missing weakens the squad. We are looking forward to the game on Sunday and we would love to get back to a county final, but Killererin will be very hard to beat."
Former Galway star and Killererin veteran Tommie Wilson, who is a selector with the club this year, said the panel was looking forward to Sunday.
"It is a county semi-final and we would love to get a crack at winning another county final, but Salthill are a good team and we will have to be at our best to get past them. It will be a close game and I don't see much between the team's at the end."
Killererin's cause has not been helped by the news that county player Tomás Fahy is a major doubt for Sunday after pulling a hamstring at training last weekend.
"Tomás will be assessed later in the week and we will give him every chance to get right," Wilson said.
"We are not picking the team until Friday or Saturday, so he still has a few days to improve. It will be touch and go, but hopefully he will be able to play some part on Sunday."
On the plus side for the 2010 champions, club captain Alan Keane is back from suspension and is available to man the goalie’s jersey again, although substitute keeper Alan Fahy has done well in his absence.
The bookies have Killererin slight favourites at 10/11 with the city men at 6/5.