Familiar foes paired for football semi-finals

Gary Sice leads Corofin scoring in their win over Salthill Knocknacarra.

Gary Sice leads Corofin scoring in their win over Salthill Knocknacarra.

The final four of the Claregalway Hotel Galway Senior Football Championship has been decided following a feast of football last weekend.

After thrills and spills aplenty, Corofin, Mountbellew-Moylough, Moycullen and Tuam Stars remain in contention in this year’s championship. And, following the draw for the semi-finals, which was made on Sunday evening, there will be a repeat of last year’s semi-final between Tuam Stars and Moycullen, while familiar foes Corofin and Mountbellew Moylough will do battle on the other side of the draw.

Tuam Stars played their part the quarter-final of the weekend against Barna, which went all the way to extra-time.

Barna began the first half playing into a near gale force wind after captain Tom Curran won the toss. It must have been a planned tactic by Barna in order to set out their defensive stall, which manager Seán Conlon had organised so well up to this point in the championship.

However, despite a bright start, the Barna defence was breached on numerous occasions in the opening half as Tuam took control. Gary O’Donnell’s bombarding runs caused havoc in the Barna rearguard, who were at sixes and sevens at times. Tuam went into half time six points to the good on a scoreline of 0-09 to 0-03.

The pick of the scores for Tuam were a Gavan Connell beauty off his left from distance, and a Brian Mannion score off his right, after some wonderful individual work on the terrace sideline to find some space to shoot.

Barna came out in the second half a different side. With increased energy and better use of the ball, they were coming back into the game when, in a crucial moment, Gary O’Donnell was black carded and sent the bin for 10 minutes.

Barna took full advantage during this period to close the gap on the Stars. Young forward Oisín Gormally was pivotal in this revival as he kicked three outstanding scores from play. Barna’s top scorer this season, Dónál Ó’Cúaláin, kicked the leveller for his side, only for a super Cormac McWalter free to peg them back once again.

Tom Curran replied at the other end to send the game to extra-time. Fatigue started to kick in and the number of errors on the ball increased, but it did not stop Brian Mannion from kicking another peach into the breeze as he took on two defenders, cut inside and curled one over off his right. It was tit-for-tat as Barna led 0-14 to 0-12 at the interval in extra-time.

Tuam, however, had more in the tank and pushed on to win it - substitute Ben O’Connell providing the much-needed energy to score two points, including the winner, which separated the teams at the end. Tuam prevailed 0-17 to 0-16.

Saturday’s other quarter final featured Corofin and Salthill-Knocknacarra where the reigning champions eased to a 1-18 to 0-09 win. Gary Sice and Jason Leonard were most prominent on the scoreboard for the victors, kicking 0-07 and 0-05 respectively.

The opening game on Sunday between Mountbellew-Moylough and Killanin did not provide much drama as Val Daly’s side coasted to a 2-13 to 1-5 win. Killanin’s performance was well below par as they bowed out with a whimper. And in the final game of the weekend, Moycullen eventually overcame a mightily determined St James’ side which gave them a right scare for three-quarters of the game.

St James took a 2-05 to 0-06 half-time lead and stuck with the heavy favourites for large parts of the game, but eventually fell short. The Jimmies will be disappointed with the loss, but when they reflect in a few weeks’ time, they will be pleased with their efforts this season and will be hopeful of building again next year.


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