There is precious little time to catch breath in the Brooks Group Galway Senior Hurling Championship after a highly-charged final round of group games last weekend left 12 teams still in the hunt for the Tom Callanan Cup in 2020.
That number will quickly be whittled down to eight with four preliminary quarter-finals due to be played this coming weekend in Athenry, two on Saturday and two on Sunday - all available to watch live on Galway GAA’s live streaming platform.
The same venue last Saturday afternoon saw dramatic conclusions to both groups one and three in Senior A. Castlegar, for the second time in three games, were somehow robbed again at the death. With Galway manager Shane O’Neill watching on from the stand, Kevin Cooney’s goal from a free deep into injury time rescued Sarsfields’ season as they snatched second place behind St Thomas’ on a 3-11 to 0-19 scoreline.
The county champions showed no let up in their form when they outclassed Portumna on Friday night, racking up a huge score of 4-38, while the clear second favourites, Turloughmore, will not have been perturbed by a 0-23 to 0-16 loss to Clarinbridge on the same evening. Both clubs will watch on with interest to proceedings this weekend.
Sarsfields will now take on Ardrahan on Saturday at 4pm having emerged from Group 2 of Senior B after a hard-fought 0-12 to 0-10 win over Beagh, a dour contest which made Athenry’s win over Killimordaly little more than a footnote. Beagh now face a battle to stave off relegation, starting with a play-off against Kilnadeema/Leitrim this weekend.
As was predicted, the calculators were required to sort out the final standings in Group 1 after Cappataggle registered a merited 0-15 to 0-12 win over Tommy Larkins, who were forced to sweat on the result of the other game as Cappataggle sprung from third to the top of the group and a place in the last eight.
Loughrea were left needing to win by at least five against Tynagh/Abbey Duniry and they duly obliged, despite being reduced to 14 men early in the contest.
A 3-16 to 2-14 victory meant Loughrea advanced on the “scores for” rule, and their lucky run was extended on Sunday evening when they were drawn out of the hat as the fourth team to qualify directly for the last eight.
Group 2 ended in a relatively more straightforward manner. Liam Mellows needed to draw on all of their experience to get past the stern challenge posed by Oranmore-Maree, with goals by Conor Hynes and Tadgh Haran each side of half time hugely important for the city side. They seem to have drawn the short straw, though, with another heavyweight clash against Gort upcoming on Sunday.
Mattie Murphy’s charges sealed their knock-out place with a big win over Ballinderreen on Sunday, but it was not enough to earn promotion back to Senior A at the first attempt.
Craughwell took the spoils there, also benefiting from the “scores for” rule in that group after their 5-22 to 2-13 win over Kinvara. Both Thomas and Patrick Monaghan among the goalscorers before Adam Clarke struck the decisive blow late on.
Ahascragh/Fohenagh will be Craughwell’s next opponents on Sunday evening, and they will be buoyed by their win over Mullagh last Friday that saw them rise to the Senior A ranks also. They left it very late, though, as Padraic Mannion and Niall Glynn struck a brace of goals deep into time added on. Mullagh will now go toe to toe with Killimordaly on Saturday, with Brian Concannon and co expected to prevail.