The appointment of the next Galway senior hurling manager appears to be no closer to a conclusion as 24 clubs prepare for a pivotal round two of the Brooks Group Senior Hurling Championship this weekend.
With only the four group winners in senior A guaranteed a quarter-final berth, along with one second-placed team drawn at random, the pressure is on now for the sides looking to rubberstamp their title credentials. And those who want to avoid the drop to senior B will be desperate for a positive result.
The final game of the first round took place on Monday night and saw Gort run out convincing winners over Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry. Mattie Murphy’s men are back out again next Monday night in Duggan Park against Padraig Pearses as they look to make a swift return to the top ranks.
The game of the weekend is undoubtedly the group two fixture in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as St Thomas’ and Liam Mellows lock horns in a repeat of the 2018 and 2019 county finals, both of which were won by the four-in-a-row chasing county champions.
Liam Mellows failed to find the net in those final losses and created not a single goal-scoring opportunity against Cappataggle last time out. That surely will not be good enough against a free-scoring St Thomas’ who are tough to contain. The stakes could not be higher for the city side, which needs a win to try to avoid being eliminated from the title race entirely, while St Thomas’ will want to seal at least a preliminary quarter-final spot ahead of their final group game against Cappataggle.
Cappataggle themselves take on Killimordaly on Saturday in Duggan Park knowing a win will guarantee them knockout action yet again after their heroics against Mellows, but they will get nothing easy against Gary Earls’ side.
In group one Craughwell will be looking to build on an encouraging first performance under new manager Brian Hanley when they play Ahascragh/Fohenagh on Saturday afternoon in Athenry, while the curtainraiser on Sunday in Pearse Stadium sees another heavyweight encounter as Turloughmore and Castlegar face off at 2pm.
Loughrea and Sarsfields will be eager to cement their status as front runners in group three when they take on Tommy Larkins and Oranmore/Maree respectively, with a round three fixture between the two looking likely to decide the group winner.
In senior B group one, Clarinbridge are heavily favoured to continue their winning ways when they travel to Ballinasloe to play Kilnadeema/Leitrim, while both Mullagh and Ardrahan will be looking to get their first points on the board when they meet in Loughrea on Sunday.
It will be very interesting to see if Portumna can bounce back from their opening day loss when they take on Kilconieron on Sunday in group three, while Ballinderreen appear poised to continue their positive run of form against Beagh on Saturday afternoon.