Fireworks expected as hurling championship hots up

The contenders for honours in the Brooks Group Senior Hurling Championship will have been whittled down to 12 teams by the time this weekend’s action concludes.

The group stages conclude with plenty of intriguing contests down for decision and a number of high profile sides facing elimination.

The complete absence of any spectators from these games after Tuesday’s announcement by the Government will make for an even more surreal environment at grounds around the county, with Galway GAA providing a live streaming service from five of the most highly-anticipated clashes.

Cappataggle, beaten semi-finalists in the previous two years, will have it all to do to produce a performance good enough to get the better of an in-form Tommy Larkins side on Saturday evening in Group 1 at 6pm.

Both sides' seasons are on the line, so expect fireworks in Athenry.

At the same time, Loughrea will take on Tynagh Abbey/Duniry in Ballinasloe, with Matty Murphy’s men expected to claim the win, but that may not be enough to see them through.

If Cappataggle were to also win, then scoring difference comes into play, which could leave all three sides scrambling for the calculators to work out which has progressed.

The permutations in Group 2 are somewhat simpler as Liam Mellows and Oranmore/Maree face off for a place in the preliminary quarter-finals on Sunday at 5pm in Kenny Park.

Already safely in the last eight, Turloughmore can rotate their squad if they choose to when they play bottom of the table Clarinbridge on Friday evening.

Sarsfields and Castlegar will also be in knock-out mode when they meet on Saturday afternoon at 2pm, also in Athenry, with the New Inn/Bullaun men slight favourites to advance. St Thomas’, who are three wins away from a three-in-a-row, will also have the luxury of resting players when they face Portumna on Friday.

In Senior B, Mullagh and Ahascragh/Fohenagh will kick things off on Friday evening with what should be a cracking game to decide who joins Killimordaly in taking the leap to Senior A next year. The other game in Group 3 has starker connotations as Padraig Pearses and Kilnadeema/Leitrim go in search of a first win to avoid the relegation play-offs.

Gort’s Group 1 decider against Ballindereen will be streamed live on Sunday at 1pm, while Craughwell will go up against Kinvara at the same time. Gort and Craughwell are both fancied to qualify, but if both win then scoring difference will again be needed to decide who goes back up to Senior A.

In Group 2 the race is well and truly on for second place in the group with three teams still in contention and two games being played simultaneously on Saturday afternoon. Athenry need to beat a Killmordaly side with little to play for in Duggan Park to give themselves a chance. If Ardrahan, though, can get the better of Beagh in Pearse Stadium, then their efforts will have been in vain, while Beagh will need Killimordaly to do them a favour if they can muster up a win on what should be a gripping weekend for hurling enthusiasts.

 

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