An early scoring flurry while playing against the wind laid the foundation for Liam Mellows to claim the opening day spoils by 1-17 to 0-14 against 2018 champions St Thomas in Kenny Park as the Galway Senior Hurling Championship got up and running last weekend.
The Ballyloughane club was itching to get one over St Thomas after crumbling to a heavy defeat in last year’s final, and they produced the ideal start when Jack Hastings' mishit shot ended up in the net. They hit four more points without reply before St Thomas, minus a long list of injury victims, rose to the challenge.
Nine points in a row followed as Darragh Burke continued his excellent form from placed balls, while Shane Cooney and David Burke drove their side on. Mellows were also without some household names such as Aonghus Callanan, but Stephen Barrett, Jack Forde, and Ronan Elwood more than held their own.
Three Tadhg Haran frees in injury time gave Mellows back the lead, and although St Thomas levelled early in the second half, it was one-way traffic for a time as Mellows stitched together five unanswered scores, with Haran at the heart of most of their good work.
Their goalkeeper Kenneth Walsh also had to be at his best to deny David Burke, having earlier made a super double save from Conor Cooney and Colin Fallon. To make matters worse for St Thomas, Cooney turned on his ankle late on to make him another injury worry for the club's next match and Galway’s Leinster campaign.
Liam Mellows won the final quarter by 0-5 to 0-2 to seal a deserved victory, while elsewhere in Senior A group one, goals by Ronan Badger, Richard Doyle (2 ), and Seán Linnane got Turloughmore off to a winning start on a comprehensive 4-18 to 1-12 scoreline against Portumna.
Tommy Larkins were five-point winners over Castlegar, while in group two, Sarsfields snatched victory over Cappataggle, thanks to a late Mark O’Regan goal as last year’s beaten semi-finalists went head-to head. Jamie Ryan inspired Loughrea to victory over Tynagh Abbey-Duniry, while Gort had too much firepower for a game Kilnadeema-Leitrim side, winning by 3-12 to 0-14.
The shock of the weekend came in Senior B group one as Oranmore-Maree edged out Craughwell in Pearse Stadium on their return to the senior ranks. There were also wins for Athenry over Beagh, while Padraig Pearses got the better of near neighbours Ahascragh-Fohenagh.
In group two, results went along expected lines. Ardrahan and Killimordaly had comfortable wins, while many people’s outside tip for the title, Clarinbridge, got off to a winning start with a 0-20 to 1-12 win over Mullagh.
LIAM MELLOW S: K Walsh; B Leen, M Hughes, L O’Donovan; S Barrett, S Morrissey, K Lee (0-1 ); J Hastings, C Elwood; T Haran (0-9, 0-6fs ), D Collins (0-1 ), J Forde (0-1 ); R Elwood, C Kavanagh (1-1 ), A Morrissey (0-3, 0-2fs ). Subs: E Fallon (0-1 ) for A Morrissey (50 mins ), C Hynes for Hastings (61 mins ).
ST THOMAS: G Murray; C Mahoney, C Burke, S Skehill; D Cooney, S Cooney, M Caulfield; David Burke (0-1f ), D Sherry; B Burke, Darragh Burke (0-11, 0-9fs, 0-1 ’65 ), C Kelly; C Fallon, C Cooney (0-2 ), D McGlynn. Sub: O Flannery for McGlynn (41 mins ).