Mountbellew/Moylough should be too strong for Monivea-Abbey

The first of the two county senior semi-finals at Tuam Stadium on Sunday at 2pm sees Michael Donnellan's Mountbellew/Moylough taking on Monivea-Abbey, who are under the guidance of Barry Downey.

Monivea-Abbey are enjoying a fairytale return to the senior ranks this season, and their 3-9 to 1-10 defeat of Tuam Stars in the quarter-finals was a big result the 1992 county champions.

However, their enchanted championship run is expected to come to an end this weekend when they face a much improved, mobile, free-scoring and hungry Mountbellew/Moylough who are very keen to get another crack at winning a county final - having come so close over the past decade.

They lost a replayed county final in 2009 by 0-11 to 1-5 to Corofin, and they also lost the 2015 final to the same side, so they will believe that under new management this can be their year if they can advance to the decider.

Superb form against St James

The black and amber men were in superb form in the quarter-finals and hammered a disappointing St James by 19 points, 3-20 to 0-10, with players like Barry McHugh (0-8, 3fs, 1/45 ), Cathal Kenny (1-3 ), Paul Donnellan (1-1 ), Stephen Boyle (1-1 ) Michael Daly (0-3 ) and veteran Joe Bergin (0-3 ) all cutting holes in the St James' rearguard at regular intervals.

Michael Donnellan and his backroom team seem to have their charges in fine fettle to try to win a first title since 1986, and based on their performance against St James, they look well capable of having a right cut at ending the club's 31 year wait for a county title.

The return of John Daly from injury to the middle of their defence is a big boost, and Shane Moran at full-back has been getting rave reviews for his performances over the past few months.

Corner backs Mark Mannion and Colin Murray also impressed in their last outing, and the Monivea-Abbey forwards will have to be at their best to make inroads on their defence.

Monivea-Abbey's spine of goal-keeper Denis Farragher, full-back Caelom Mulry, Lorcan Laheen, team captain Trevor Mullins at midfield, county U21 star Cillian McDaid and the lively Paddy Mullins, who hit three points against the Stars, are all very accomplished players.

The return of county senior hurling panelists and All-Ireland medal winners Brian and Paul Flaherty has also boosted their team, with Paul hitting 1-1 from full-forward in their quarter-final win.

Wing-back Paddy Mullins excelled the last day out with 0-3, including two standout frees, and he will be a player Mountbellew will mind, as are corner forwards Stephen Walsh and James Mannion, who both raised green flags in the win over Tuam.

While Monivea-Abbey should be well able to put it up to Mountbellew/Moylough for the first 45 minutes or so, in the final analysis I would expect Mountbellew/Moylough to have too many scoring options for their close neighbours and to advance to a county final against either Corofin or Annaghdown.

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