Sarsfields start title defence against ambitious St Thomas

The Galway hurling championship kicks off this weekend with some interesting games down for decision.

This year there are a few changes to how the 2016 championship system will run.

In both the A and B championships there are two groups of six teams, with the top two teams in each group in A going straight into the championship quarter-finals. The top two teams in the B groups will play the third and fourth teams in the A groups in a preliminary quarter finals to see who will reach the last eight.

The bottom two sides – teams 5 and 6 – in the A groups will play with the two losing teams demoted to senior B for 2017.

Sarfields and St Thomas on Saturday

Some of the games that catch the eye this weekend are county champions Sarsfields and St Thomas in group one of the senior A championship in Kenny Park on Saturday evening (6.30pm ).

Sarsfields are again under the management team of player-manager Cathal Murray and he is joined by selectors Willie Earls and Padraic Earls. Joseph Cooney will again captain the side.

St Thomas reached the county semi-finals last year and team manager John Burke will be keen to improve on that position this season.

The continuing absence of star forward and top free-taker Conor Cooney is a colossal loss to the side and understandably they struggle for scores without him.

It is hoped Cooney will be back later in the season, but St Thomas could really do with him being fit and ready for action from the get-go. They face Loughrea in round two (next weekend ) and they will be targeting a win on Saturday to try to get their season off to a positive start.

In the B championship Abbeyknockmoy and Maigh Cuilinn renew rivalry from last year’s intermediate final and they are in action on Saturday evening in Pearse Stadium at 7pm.

Moycullen have been moving well in pre season and team manager/coach Morgan Darcy and selector Tom McDermott are getting a positive reaction from their squad with league wins over Clarinbridge and St Thomas.

However, key players Mark Lydon (muscle damage ) and Eanna Noone (shoulder ) are struggling to be fit for the start of the championship and they will need everyone if they are to progress from the group.

2016 Intermediate champions Abbeyknockmoy are captained this season by John Culkin and their management team comprises Brian Cooley and Gerry Farragher (joint managers ) and Johnny Kelly as coach.

On Sunday there is an attractive double header in Kenny Park with Loughrea and Turloughmore (4.30pm ) and Gort and Castlegar in action at 6pm.

With the current good weather and the pitches hardening up every day, there should be some high quality action to enjoy over the weekend.

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