Cappataggle overcame the odds in remarkable fashion on Sunday afternoon to get their campaign off to a winning start, scoring the game’s last three points to get the better of Liam Mellows despite playing almost all of the contest a man short.
Tony Nevin’s side was the worthy winner by 0-19 to 0-17, exorcising some of the ghosts that perhaps had haunted his side after a run of semi-final losses to Louis Mulqueen’s men.
Star forward Ja Mannion’s straight red card after less than three minutes handed the Mellows the initiative and a spare man in defence, but they struggled to shake off a hugely determined Cappataggle, who only trailed by the minimum at half time.
Tadhg Haran’s dead ball accuracy kept Mellows’ noses in front in the third quarter, and they appeared likely to hold out for the win before Liam Collins and Paul Claffey provided the inspiration for Cappataggle to surge spectacularly to the winning line.
County champions St Thomas’ were the other big winners in Senior A group two as they swept aside Killimordaly with the minimum of fuss, five unanswered points approaching half-time opening the floodgates for the Kilchreest/Peterswell outfit as they ended up 2-23 to 3-13 victors.
In group one Craughwell almost pulled off the shock of the round, but were reeled in by Turloughmore when a last gasp equaliser from Sean Loftus forced a 1-18 apiece draw.
A late scoring burst by Castlegar pushed them to a comprehensive victory over Ahascragh-Fohenagh, with Fergal Lynch’s men in decent form ahead of a clash with Turloughmore next time out.
Anthony Burns' early goal helped propel Loughrea to a routine win over Oranmore-Maree in group three, while Sarsfields showed plenty of character in holding Tommy Larkins to just a solitary point from play in the second half as they overturned a six-point deficit to record a 0-22 to 2-14 win.
In Senior B, Ballinderreen rattled in four first-half goals in their win over Portumna in group three, where there was also a win for newcomers Kilconieron who beat Beagh by 0-21 to 0-18.
The game fixed for Friday evening between Gort and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry was postponed, meaning there are joint table-toppers in group one after the first weekend as Athenry and Padraig Pearses played out a compelling 1-16 apiece stalemate.
Clarinbridge showed why they are favourites to top group two with a resounding win over Ardrahan on Saturday, while Kilnadeema/Leitrim edged out Mullagh by the narrowest of margins, winning by 1-20 to 2-16.
The next round of group games will take place on the weekend of September 25/26.
Elsewhere, speculation regarding who would become the next Galway senior hurling manager took something of a twist when reports surfaced that Micheál Donoghue had been approached to step back into the role after a two-year absence.
Donoghue’s exit in 2019 appeared premature, with suggestions rife at the time that relations with the county board had soured, so it will be interesting to see if the Clarinbridge native is willing to step back into the hot seat after Galway’s underwhelming championship outings this year.