Mellows aiming for first senior title in forty-seven years

Gort will not give a hoot that most neutrals will be rooting for Mellows, the underdogs

Galway and Gort’s Aidan Harte will be looking to inspire his side to victory after losing last year’s final.

Galway and Gort’s Aidan Harte will be looking to inspire his side to victory after losing last year’s final.

Ray Silke

In December 1970 the number one single in the charts was "I think I love you" by the Partridge family. Jack Lynch was taoiseach, Éamon de Valera was president, and Everton won the division one league title in England that season.

The Duke - actor John Wayne - was still making cowboy movies and had yet to make Big Jake - and it was also the last time city-based hurling club Liam Mellows held the county senior cup as champions.

Such a gap is far too long for a proud hurling club which is only behind Castlegar (17 ) and Ardrahan (11 ) on the Galway Senior Club hurling roll of honour.

Now, after many decades trying to get back to a senior decider, they have an opportunity to bridge that 47 year gap when they take on 2014 and 2011 champions Gort in the county final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday (2pm ).

1970 is also the last time the city side played in a final, and they advanced this year courtesy of a narrow one-point victory over Cappataggle, 0-13 to 1-9, in their semi-final.

Mellows led by 0-7 to 0-3 in that game and, had Cappie been a little more efficient in front of goal in both halves, they could have sneaked at least a draw, if not edged a win themselves.

Cappataggle had good scoring chances, but they did not take them, and Mellows know Gort will not be so forgiving if those scoring opportunities present themselves.

Tadhg Haran

doing well

Up front for Mellows in that semi-final win, Tadhg Haran did really well. He ended the game as his side's top scorer with five points (0-4fs ).

The national school teacher, who is also a talented footballer, is now a key player for Louis Mulqueen's squad, having notched 0-23 to-date (0-8fs ) in the campaign and a key ball winner up front.

To win this Sunday, Mellows will need other forwards, such as Galway U21 Ronan Elwood, former Kinvara star Conor Kavanagh, and joint captain Aonghus Callanan (if injury free ), to really tear into the Gort rearguard and be ruthless in front of the sticks.

It will be interesting to see if regular free-taker Adrian Morrissey, who was withdrawn late in the first half of the semi-final, is given the nod for a starting spot this weekend.

Others who will have to be in full flow in three days' time are former Galway player and current GPA president and club joint captain David Collins, full back Sean Morrissey, midfielder Jack Hastings, and goalkeeper Kenneth Walsh.

Gort's experience gives them an advantage

Gort, who have been in four finals since 2008 - winning two and losing out to St Thomas last season and Portumna nine years ago - are most people's favourites to win on Sunday. They are 2/5 favourites with the money men, with Mellows 2/5 outsiders. The draw is priced up at 8/1.

Gort qualified for the final with a 1-17 to 1-15 win in a tight replay against Craughwell.

Michael Browne's men held a slender 1-08 to 1-07 lead in that game when they were inspired by the brilliance of Galway star Aidan Harte who hit 1-02 in rapid succession just before half-time, and ended the tie with 1-04 under his belt.

Harte will expect to have good support on Sunday from his team captain Greg Lally, whose long raking deliveries will need to be stopped by the Mellows' attack.

Midfielder Jack Grealish has also caught the eye as the season has progressed, as has experienced free-taker Aiden Helebert and the lively Kaelen Higgins.

They have a very experienced net minder in Gavin Lally, and defenders such as 2011 captain Andy Coen, Sylvie Óg Linnane, Michael Cummins, Pakie Lally and Mark McMahon know what it takes to get over the winning line in a county final.

Up front they will be looking to Richie Cummins, Jason Grealish, Paul Killilea and Albert and Michael Mullins to raise a few flags if they are to add another title to the ones they annexed in 2011 and 2014.

Having been beaten in last year's county final by St Thomas, Gort will be keen to avoid a second county final defeat in a row. They will not give a hoot that most neutrals will be rooting for the underdogs.

The Gort players will be coming down the new motorway on Sunday morning with a job do - sentiment or romance will not enter the equation.

They have a solid and balanced team, with oceans of experience, and in Aidan Harte they have a real gem. He has been in super form over the past few months and he could be the difference between the sides on Sunday too.

Referee for the game is Christy Browne (Ballinasloe ).

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