Portumna start their title defence

The opening weekend of the Galway SHC may have been spoiled by wretched weather, but there was no disguising Sarsfields, Beagh, Tommie Larkins, Clarinbridge, Kinvara, and Killimordaly’s joy at obtaining the craved first win.

A Ger Farragher-inspired Castlegar and Ardrahan scampered away from the puddles of Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday night reasonably satisfied, too, after drawing their fixture. At this stage of the year any defeat that is avoided is looked on favourably.

With Kerril Wade outstanding, Sarsfields possessed enough craft to survive against Craughwell, and the former All Ireland champions face another tough test this weekend against Gort. The other Group A combat between Craughwell and Mullagh is significant too as both sides lost last time out so an instant response is required.

The game of the weekend takes place in Ballinasloe on Saturday as Athenry face standard bearers Portumna. Beagh outfoxed Athenry so they need to eke out a result against Portumna, who will also be eager to start their defence with a victory. At Loughrea on Sunday Tommie Larkins and Beagh, fresh from encouraging success, face off and whoever emerges are nearly guaranteed a berth in the knock-out stages.

Group C is interesting and a decent crowd will hit Pearse Stadium on Saturday afternoon for Liam Mellows’ encounter with Clarinbridge. Mark Kerins guided the Bridge to an early triumph, but Mellows have been threatening for a while, and they will be striving to make a statement in Salthill. Cappataggle, an intermediate club in 2008, came within a whisker of shocking Kinvara, and their battle with Kiltormer on Sunday at Ballinasloe has the cut of a revealing match.

In Group D Killimordaly’s tussle with Loughrea, and Carnmore’s clash with Ardrahan will be critical in determining who can enjoy a productive run in one of the most intriguing pools.


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