Games to savour as senior football championship hots up

The county senior football championship has reached the quarter-final stage for 2013, and all four quarter-finals are down for decision this weekend. There are some really exciting games expected and the all-city clash of St James and St Michael’s on Saturday evening is one to savour. Then on Sunday near neighbours Milltown and Cortoon-Shamrocks meet in Tuam.

St James v St Michael’s

Saturday August 31

6.30pm Pearse Stadium

St James are the hot favourites to advance to the county semi-final from this city derby.

They have shown some very good form over the past few games and they were far too strong the last day out for Kilkerrin/Clonberne. They are an improving side and they are 2/5 with the bookies for this clash, with St Michael’s available at 12/5.

St James will be looking to county midfielder Paul Conroy to lead the way and continue his good form.

The 2007 All-Ireland minor winning captain was, in my opinion, Galway’s most impressive player in their run in the qualifiers. He will be a key player if they are to advance, as will be experienced players Johnny Duane, Mark Kelly, Tommy Walsh and Eoin Concannon.

Eddie Hoare has been a mainstay for St Michael’s in their championship run and his potential battle with Conroy could be one of the highlights of the game. John Ruane will also be looking to some of the younger lads on the team such as David Cunnane and Brian Madden to produce big displays.

St Michael’s will feel that if they play to their full potential, there could be a shock on the cards, but, it is difficult to look past a win for the “Jimmies”.

There are three games at Pearse Stadium on Saturday, starting with Moycullen and Caherlistrane in a senior relegation tie (3pm ), and Claregalway and Oughterard (4.45pm ) in the county intermediate semi-final.

Leitir Mór v Corofin

Sunday September 1

1.45 pm Pearse Stadium

Naomh Anna Leitir Mór had a fine win the last day out over Carraroe and they will enter this clash with championship favourites Corofin feeling they have nothing to lose. Corofin are expected by most people to win easily and that is a dangerous position to be in. If they are overconfident going into the game, they will be in big trouble.

Leitir Mór manager Bert Curran is an experienced football man and he will set up his team to make things difficult for Corofin who have had no real test in the championship to date and are, I believe, a tad over-rated.

If the Connemara men needed any extra motivation for the game, they only have to look at the bookies odds where they are 13/2 outsiders, with Corofin 10/1. They are insulting odds and the Leitir Mór players will be very keen to prove they are good value at that price and worth a punt.

Corofin are strong around the middle with Ronan Steede, Greg Higgins, Kieran Comer and Damien Burke all well able to win possession, and they are boosted by the return of county u-21 star Ian Burke from the US.

The expectation is that Corofin can advance, but they should expect a tough struggle before they do so.

That game is preceded by Bearna v Micheal Breathnach in a senior relegation tie (noon ).

Salthill-Knocknacarra v Caltra

Sunday September 1

Tuam Stadium (4.45pm )

County and Caltra star Michael Meehan had to go off injured in their narrow win over Mountbellew/Moylough in the last round with a recurrence of his ankle injury, and assuming that he is out of this game he will be a massive loss for his side.

They are managed this year by the experienced Cyril Ryan and he will have come up with a plan to try and nullify the influence of Salthill’s two key scoring threats – Seán Armstrong and Seamie Crowe.

Former all-star Declan Meehan plays a roving role for Caltra and his ability to link play and provide an outlet for the team is crucial.

Salthill manager Cathal McGinley will look to big displays around the middle from John Boylan and David Tierney and at the back the likes of county U-21 player Gearoid Canavan and county captain Finian Hanley will be expected to show the leadership to keep the Caltra score-line low.

Salthill are 1/2 to advance, with Caltra at 15/8.

It will probably be a tight game, however, Salthill should have the strength in depth to advance.

Milltown v Cortoon-Shamrocks

Sunday – September 1

6.30pm Tuam Stadium

For many this is the clash of the round.

Both current Milltown players John and Michael Martin played for Cortoon-Shamrocks for a good few years before transferring clubs, so it will be exciting for them facing their former teammates and adds interest to the game.

Milltown team manager John Concannon will have been pleased the way his side killed off Cárna-Caiseal two weeks ago and when his forward division opened up they looked pretty impressive. They will need James Kavanagh, Mark Hehir, Sean Hehir and Fergal Nicholson in good form up front as they are facing a solid Cortoon rear guard where the likes of Donal O’Neill and Brian Gilmore are fine players.

Midfielder Damien Brennan did very well for Milltown the last day out and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain that high level of performance this weekend.

Cortoon will be hoping Galway u-21 star Adrian Varley will be back to full fitness and they also have Fergal Heverin to cause a few problems up front.

Milltown are 4/9 to reach the last four, with Cortoon at 21/10.

It is a difficult game to call, but the feeling in this parish is that Milltown’s greater spread of scoring options should see them sneak into the semi-finals.

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