All roads lead to Kenny Park for county hurling semi-finals

Galway star Aidan Harte is expected to play a key role for Gort this Sunday in their county semi-final against Craughwell.

Galway star Aidan Harte is expected to play a key role for Gort this Sunday in their county semi-final against Craughwell.

Liam Mellows v Cappataggle (12.45pm )

Liam Mellows will be hoping to continue their rich vein of form when they face Cappataggle in the first of the two county semi-finals fixed for Kenny park this Sunday (12.45pm ).

Mellows took two bites of the cherry before seeing off Clarinbridge in their county quarter-final, coming through in the replay by 1-11 to 0-12.

Ronan Elwood bagged the crucial goal midway through the second half, and others who did well were Tadhg Haran, who won a lot of aerial ball and also hit two points from play, free-taker Adrian Morrissey who shot eight crucial frees, former county star David Collins, and full-back Sean Morrissey.

Mellows have not tasted senior championship success since 1970 when they won the last of their eight county cups. Louis Mulqueen's men will know they will need a really big performance, and be more efficient in front of goal this weekend if they are going to see off Cappataggle, who beat Sarsfields by 0-19 to 0-14 in their quarter-final.

It is a first county senior semi-final for the Cappataggle men who were playing intermediate level only three years ago. They will be looking to big displays from key defenders James Garvey, Paul Claffey and Kevin Kelly.

Dan Nevin and Eanna Garvey are tenacious players with a terrific work-rate at midfield, and they will be hard to stop, while up front Tony Nevin's side will be looking to free-taker Steven Creaven, James Egan, full-forward Ronan Garvey, and veteran Damien Joyce to hit a match winning tally.

The extra game and additional match sharpness from their replay with Clarinbridge might swing the advantage slightly in Mellows' favour.

Gort v Craughwell (2.30pm )

Gort are understandably most people's favourites to lift the Tom Callanan Cup from the four teams remaining in the race.

They were last county champions in 2014 and they still have a plenty of men who were on that team, and indeed the side that also lifted the trophy in 2011 - so they have plenty of experience to win big games against quality opposition.

The return to the side of 2011 captain Andy Coen has solidified their full-back line and he impressed in their 1-25 to 2-16 win over Killimordaly in the quarter-finals.

County star Aidan Harte was the star turn for his club in that win, and his 1-04 from play from midfield was one of the highlights of the game.

Defensively, they are strong with centre-back Greg Lally and Jack Grealish accomplished performers.

Lally's accuracy from long-range frees is another string to their bow and he hit five points (0-4 frees ) the last day out.

Up front they will be looking to free-taker Aiden Helebert and Jason Grealish to make inroads on the Craughwell rearguard.

Craughwell are an experienced outfit too and are in a fourth consecutive semi-final. They had their homework well done to close down the Portumna attack when defeating the former champions by 0-15 to 0-12 the last day out, with their free-taker Niall Healy notching seven points (6fs ) in that victory.

Defensively they are strong, players such as full-back Ian Daniels, Mark Monaghan, Stephen Hynes and Ger O'Halloran are all solid performers.

Up front they will be hoping player/manager Fergal Healy and Niall Healy continue their scoring exploits, and that duo are ably supported by young Tomás Monaghan, Jamie Ryan and Shane Dolan, who hit 0-2 from play in the quarter-final.

Craughwell will be a hard nut to crack, but based on their respective semi-finals Gort looked the slightly better balanced outfit. If they play to their potential, they should be good enough to advance after a battle royal.

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