Following the Galway Football Senior Club Championship draw, we take an in-depth look at group two this week.
Tuam Stars: Last year’s beaten finalists will be hugely boosted by the news that manager Tommy Carton will remain at the helm for the coming year.
From relegation to being within a whisker of dethroning the All-Ireland champions, Carton has done quite a job with his team.
The emergence of a number of younger players has really given the club the energy it needed. The performances of Brian Mannion, who was man of the match in the drawn county final, Brendan Mashengele, and Ben O’Connell, who was named on the dream team, will give Tuam Stars huge hope they can go one better than last year.
In Jamie Murphy, Gary O’Donnell and Noel Henry they have the experience to guide a number of players. It will be interesting to see how the year pans out for the Stars.
Milltown: Following their epic semi-final battles with Salthill-Knocknacarra in 2018, Milltown endured a hugely underwhelming 2019.
They avoided a relegation battle, but only just, on score difference. There appeared to be a huge burden resting on players such as Michael Martin and Liam Costello to produce the goods for Milltown in each game.
It remains to be seen how much Cathal Blake and Darren Mullahy have left in the tank as they have been stalwarts for their club over the past decade. There will be growing reliance on Jack Kirrane, Eoin Mannion and Liam Costello to become leaders on the field as they represent the future for Milltown. It could be a tough year ahead.
Caherlistrane: The ‘Strane overcame a relegation battle last season when overcoming the challenge of Killererin to maintain their senior status for 2020.
This was on the back of receiving a bitter blow during the season when forced to make do without veteran Cormac Bane, who suffered a serious head injury.
His loss, coupled with Oisín O’Brien’s relocation to Meath, does not bode well for Caherlistrane. There is a huge weight on the shoulders of Cein D'Arcy in the middle of the park, while there is hope that young Jonathan McGrath and Kyle O’Neill will make the step-up to be big players.
Micháel Breathnach: The Connamara outfit secured promotion to senior when they reached the intermediate county final last season.
They were unfortunate to lose out on penalties in a replay after two games against Oughterard.
Seán Denvir and Fiontain O’Curraoin were huge players in this run to the final. The free-taking of Ruadhán O’Curraoin was a huge find for the year as he consistently nailed big scores. Retaining their senior status for 2021 will represent a successful season for Micháel Breathnach’s.
An-Spidéal: Will be disappointed with their end performance of the quarter-finals of last season’s championship.However, it did represent a solid year, having only just come up from intermediate.
A solid foundation is always a good place to start, and in Magnus Breathnach between the sticks they have just that. Micháel O’Curraoin holds the centre back position very well. In Antaine and Finnian O’Laoi, An-Spidéal possess two of the finest young forwards in the county.
With that threat, they pose a danger in any game, and will be aiming to advance to the quarter-finals again and beyond.
Mountbellew-Moylough: Val Daly returns as manager for the coming season for 2018’s beaten finalists.
They have the unfortunate record of being dumped out of the championship by Corofin for the past six years in succession. One wonders how successful they might be were it not for the greatest club team of all time to stand in their way.
There will need a new plan in order to improve as their defensive style has not shown the best of the talents at their disposal.
John Daly, Michael Daly, Eoin Finnerty and Barry McHugh are some of the best players in the county. And they should be there or thereabouts as usual.