The Claregalway Hotel Galway Senior Football Championship quarter-finals take place this weekend, in conjunction with the two intermediate finals.
On Saturday in Pearse Stadium, Tuam Stars will play An Spideal at 3pm, followed at 4.45pm by Moycullen v St Michael's. Tuam Stadium will host the other two quarter-finals on Sunday with Salthill-Knocknacarra v Claregalway kicking off proceedings at 3pm, followed by the clash of Mountbellew/Moylough and Corofin (4.45pm ) in a repeat of the county finals of 2017 and 2018.
Sunday will also see the two intermediate semi-finals in Pearse Stadium with Cortoon v Michael Breathnachs at 1.30pm and Dunmore v Oughterard at 3.15pm.
Tuam Stars vs An Spideal
Many would have expected An Spideal to slightly lose their way with the loss of Antoine O’Laoi through injury, but they finished the group strongly, winning their two games.
The O’Laoi brothers remain vital to their club's continued rise in the football standings in Galway, with Cormac and Finnian in the forwards, and oldest brother Ciaran helping to marshal the defence. Manus Breathnach has been composed in goal throughout the year, while the fitness of this young team is paying dividends.
Tuam have recovered impressively after a disappointing few years, and Jamie Murphy has been the standout player of the championship to date. Gary O’Donnell’s defensive duties from midfield have been relaxed, thanks to the return of Darragh O’Rourke from Australia. This young Tuam team has made great strides since the return of Tommy Carton to the coaching ticket and looks like becoming one of the strongholds in Galway football once again.
Moycullen v St Michael's
Moycullen were ultra-impressive in the toughest group of the championship with a loss to Monivea-Abbey the only blemish on their record. Full value for their one-point win over Mountbellew-Moylough in round three, their scoring power is matched by their defence, and they look to be a match for anyone this year. Peter Cooke’s travels to America may have come too soon for his club as his strength in midfield and his free-taking abilities will be greatly missed.
St Michael’s have impressed throughout the year with consistency in league and championship being the main reason why they have progressed. Eamonn Brannigan and his team will need to be at the top of their game to progress to the 2019 semi-final.
Salthill-Knocknacarra v Claregalway
The first game in Tuam stadium on Sunday is one with two young and promising teams. After the retirement of Sean Armstrong, Salthill have increasingly put their faith in youth which has started to pay dividends. After a disappointing draw with Bearna on the opening day of the championship season they won their next four games, with Robert Finnerty, John Maher and Gearoid Armstrong impressing for Anthony Finnerty’s Side.
Claregalway, in much the same vain, have brought through their talented minor side of 2017. Having won championshisp at every underage level, no fewer than 10 players who are eligible to play u20, started and impressed against Corofin in round four. This winning know-how, added to the experience of Danny Cummins and Sean Moran, means they will not shirk from any challenge. Galway minor footballer from 2016 Barry Goldrick is the playmaker in chief for this side and plenty will be needed to keep the young Claregalway man quiet on Sunday. This promises to be the most open and entertaining of the quarter finals this weekend.
Corofin v Mountbellew/Moylough
The reunion of the two top performing teams in Galway over the last six years promises to draw the biggest crowd of all four games. With injuries to Michael Farragher, Gary Sice and Jason Leonard, Corofin could be going into this game lacking some of their biggest game players.
Mountbellew showed the chinks in Corofin’s armour last year when forcing them to a replay in the county final. With Dathai Burke’s Turloughmore still in hurling championship, and Ciaran Brady also still in America, Corofin could be forced to find a new partner for Ronan Steede at midfield.
Mountbellew lost to Moycullen in the group stage and have not beaten Corofin in championship this decade. Eoin Finnerty’s fitness will prove key to the challengers as when fit he has continually proved to be a quality footballer. The return of Barry McHugh from America, along with the performances of the Daly brothers all year for Galway, puts Mountbellew/Moylough in a promising position to possibly end Corofin’s 41 game unbeaten run.
Quarter final fixtures: Saturday, Tuam Stars v Am Spideal, 3pm Pearse Stadium; Moycullen v St Michael's, 4.45 Pearse Stadium. Sunday, Salthill-Knocknacarra v Claregalway, 3pm Tuam Stadium; Mountbellew Moylough v Corofin 4.45pm Tuam Stadium. Senior relegation play-off: Saturday, An Cheathru Rua v Leitir Mor, 4.45pm Ros Muc; Bhearna v St James, 4.45pm Tuam Stadium; Killererin v Caherlistrane, 5pm Milltown.
Intermediate semi-finals: Sunday, Michael Breathnachs vs Cortoon, 1.30pm Pearse Stadium; Oughterard v Dunmore, 3.15pm Pearse Stadium.