Ballinasloe in bonus territory as they head to Breffini Park
This Sunday a special gathering of the football people of Ballinasloe, past and present, takes place when St Grellan's head to Kingspan Breffini Park for the All-Ireland Junior football semi-final against Armagh’s An Port Mór at 2pm.
The Ballinasloe men, who narrowly defeated Clifden in last year's Galway junior final, are under the guidance of team manager Seán Riddle, alongside selectors Pat Cunningham, Cathal Coleman, Cathal Croffy and Lloyd Kelly.
The team's preparations have been going smoothly and the team had a familiarisation trip to Cavan last Sunday to check out the pitch and dressing-rooms. They have also had recent challenges against the Galway u-21s and Mayo intermediate champions Charlestown.
Seán Riddle and Pat Cunningham, who won Galway county senior medals with the club in 1979 and 1980, have sons on the current Ballinasloe panel and both are delighted to see the club back in the intermediate ranks of Galway football for 2013.
However, before they get stuck into intermediate football in Galway this season, they hope to follow Clonbur's example and advance to an All-Ireland club football final at Croke Park.
Riddle pleased with preparations
Team manager Seán Riddle is pleased with his side’s preparations,
"Things have been going very well. We have a few niggles before the weekend, but we are hopeful we will have everyone available for selection,” he says.
Our objective at the start of the year was to get the club back to intermediate football in Galway, and from there on everything has been a bonus. We are in an All-Ireland semi-final now and we are going to give it our best shot. There is a great buzz around the town and great support for the panel of lads, so we are really keen to try to get a big performance on Sunday."
Ballinasloe have been hitting really big tallies in the Connacht club championship and have scored three goals on average in their three last games. Riddle is hoping it continues against Portmore.
"Our midfield partnership of Luke Tierney and Liam Lynch have been working really hard around the middle and there has been lots of possession going into the forwards and they have been doing well. We need that to continue if we are to advance to the final."
Other key players are captain and centre-back Keith Kelly, former minor star James Shaughnessy, Galway u-21 Padraig Cunningham, and forwards Paul Billo Whelahan, Darragh McCormack and Garry Canavan, who is flying back from Lebanon this week.
The winners on Sunday will face either Castleknock (Dublin) or Kenmare Shamrocks (Kerry) in the All-Ireland final on Saturday February 9.
Hopefully, there will be a gathering of Ballinasloe people in Dublin that weekend too.