The draw for the Claregalway Hotel Galway Senior football championship was made recently, and the challenge for everyone is to try to topple standard bearers Corofin.
Corofin have won the Frank Fox for seven years on the trot, and this year they are aiming to go one better than the great Tuam Stars team of the 1950s.
This year’s championship, whenever it starts, is expected to be highly competitive with All-Ireland intermediate champions Oughterard joining the senior ranks, alongside Micháel Breathnachs. There are also a number of teams which boast underage talent, and they will fancy themselves to have a right cut at this year’s championship.
Over the next three weeks the Galway Advertiser Sport will examine each group in the championship, giving the low-down on players and club hopes.
Salthill-Knocknacarra : This side was beaten at the semi-final stage last year by eventual All-Ireland champions Corofin.
There is no shortage of talent in this Salthill-Knocknacarra team, although it may be too soon for some of the younger players to make their presence felt at senior level.
In defence Eoin McFadden and Gearóid Armstrong excelled for the Seasiders last season. Young Cathal Sweeney was deployed at wing-forward for most of last season, but he has been in flying form for the Galway U20s at wing-back.
Up front, Robert Finnerty is one of the most skilful players in the county and will give any defence trouble. Eoghan Tinney and Tomo Culhane will also be given ample game time this year. It may be too soon for a serious tilt at the title for Salthill-Knocknacarra but they will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
Oughterard: Last year under the stewardship of Tommy Finnerty, Oughterard showed what they are all about. Attacking flair, togetherness and a relentless work rate brought them all the way to Croke Park where they tasted glory in the All-Ireland intermediate final.
There is some serious talent within their ranks with young guns Ryan Monaghan, Cian Monaghan and Matthew Tierney having produced some huge performances for Oughterard last year when it was required. Enda Tierney proved he is one of the top midfielders in the county, and Eddie O’Sullivan was a rock at the heart of their defence.
If they can adapt quickly to the change in pace at senior level, they could go far.
St Michael’s: Having survived last season without a relegation battle, the Westside men will be looking to build on a positive season and aiming for the quarter-finals.
A lot of reliance still rests on the shoulders of former Galway player and current counsellor Eddie Hoare. He is their go-to man for scores, and if he isn’t performing, the team usually suffers as a result.
Brian Harlowe, a Galway u20 for the past two years, will also be a big figure if Michael’s are to progress from the group.
Monivea-Abbey: Two seasons ago they reached a semi-final, but appeared to struggle to recapture that form last season.
It can be difficult for a club like Monivea-Abbey to maintain the high standard to which they aspire in both codes of GAA, as well as rugby and soccer.
There is no doubt they have the players, but the big question is if they can strike the balance this season and push on from what was a disappointing year last year.
Cillian McDaid and Patrick Mullins will be key players if this push is to happen, along with Eoin Blade and Trevor Mullins.
Annaghdown: Narrowly avoiding relegation brought the end to a very underwhelming championship for Annaghdown last year.
They would have been among the contenders at the beginning of the championship, but injuries and players' lack of form certainly hindered them.
Damien Comer and Eoghan Kerin were both struggling with knocks for most of the campaign, while Kieran Duggan missed every game.
They will be hoping to go under the radar in what is an extremely tough group, but they will no doubt be quietly confident of progressing.
Moycullen: A quarter final loss to finalists Tuam Stars in an epic in Pearse Stadium brought the curtain down on Moycullen’s 2019 season.
They appeared to lack a tactical plan in that loss because it was for a lack of ability when they went down to the Stars who played with greater craft.
Gareth Bradshaw, David Wynne, Seán Kelly, Dessie Conneely, and Peter Cooke have been vital cogs in Moycullen’s renaissance over the past few years, but it remains to be seen if Cooke will return from the US.
With Paul Kelly, Daniel Cox and James McLoughlin to add to the mix this season, there is a strong team. If the correct structures are in place, we could see this side blossom.