All-Ireland champions kick off this season's football championship

 Oughterard's Eddie O'Sullivan, left, and Ronan Molloy lifted the cup following the AIB  All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final, but now they face the country's  senior champions Corofin on the opening weekend of the Galway Senior Football Championship. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Oughterard's Eddie O'Sullivan, left, and Ronan Molloy lifted the cup following the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship final, but now they face the country's senior champions Corofin on the opening weekend of the Galway Senior Football Championship. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

In a first, this season's Claregalway Hotel Galway Senior Football Championship will kick off with hugely anticipated meeting of Corofin and Oughterard - the first time the country's senior All Ireland champions have played their intermediate counterparts.

Thus Kevin O'Brien's Corofin will meet Tommy Finnerty's Oughterard in this novel pairing at Pearse Stadium in Salthill on Sunday. The game will be televised live on TG4 (2.15pm ).

It is a contest that will go down in the GAA annals - not ever has one county boasted both senior and intermediate club champions in the same year.

Corofin will of course be overwhelming favourites. The first GAA club team in either hurling or football to win three back-to-back All-Ireland club titles, Corofin pursue a 22nd Galway crown. And with an extra long pre-season after a hectic 2019/20, the long summer's rest will have benefited O'Brien's side.

The biggest change to the Corofin panel is the loss of Kieran Fitzgerald since his announced retirement in April. A stalwart of the Corofin team, the 39-years-old fullback bowed out after a remarkable successful career, and the big question is who will take over his position. The two players tipped as possible replacements, Conor Cunningham and Dylan McHugh, have big boots to fill.

Oughterard, however, will be extra keen to show their credentials having returned to senior football as All Ireland intermediate champions. Manager Tommy Finnerty has created a positive and competitive outfit in Oughterard which took them on the path to All Ireland glory, and although they will not be expected to prevail over Corofin, there will be huge confidence that they can cause their opponents trouble in what should be an intense championship outing.

While Corofin will be looking to continue their domination, Tuam Stars, Salthill, Claregalway, and Mountbellew will all have their eyes on dethroning the champions.

Local rivalries will also play a part this season with an Spideal v Bearna and Salthill Knockcanararra v St Michael's paired on opening day, and given the reduced structure of this year's championship, players will be keen to impress Galway manager Padraig Joyce.

Fixtures: Friday July 31, Claregalway v Killanin, Pearse Stadium 7.30pm (streaming on Galwaygaa.ie ); Saturday August 1, Moycullen v Micheal Breathnach, Pearse Stadium 2.30pm (streaming on Galwaygaa.ie ); An Spideal v Bearna (Moycullen 4.30pm ); An Cheathru Rua v Milltown, Pearse Stadium 5.30pm (streaming on Galwaygaa.ie ); Tuam Stars v Caherlistrane, Tuam Stadium 7.30pm; Sunday August 2, Corofin v Oughterard, Pearse Stadium 2.30pm (TG4 live ); Salthill-Knocknacarra v St Michael's, Pearse Stadium 5.30pm; Mountbellew/Moylough v Annaghdown, Tuam Stadium 6pm (streaming on Galwaygaa.ie ).

 

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