The Galway Senior Football Championship is down to the last eight teams and the draw, which was made 10 days ago, has produced a few tasty clashes to whet the appetite of football supporters around the county.
It has been an entertaining championship to date, partly due to the increase in crowds, and the energy which they have brought to the games.
The first of the quarter-finals to take place this weekend is in Tuam Stadium on Saturday at 1.45pm which will host the meeting of Annaghdown and Mountbellew-Moylough. An interesting subplot to the game is that the current Annaghdown manager Kieran Murphy will be facing his former side which he guided to a number of finals over the years. Murphy’s side scraped a draw in their final group game against Claregalway, and will be hoping for a better showing this weekend. The Annaghdown forwards will need to stand up and be counted as there is sure to be a lot of attention on Damien Comer and Frankie Burke.
Mountbellew-Moylough qualified from their group relatively comfortably in the end, despite their second-round draw with Milltown. Val Daly will be cranking it up a notch or two in training as they await the stiff test that Annaghdown will bring. The Mountbellew-Moylough players will be hoping to use their intimate knowledge of Murphy’s playing style to their advantage in order to get them over the line and into the last four.
The second quarter-final will also be hosted by Tuam Stadium on Saturday as Milltown and Corofin will clash at 4pm. Ger Bowen’s Milltown will be aware of the uphill task they face, but to be sure they will relish the underdogs' tag as they did against Mountbellew-Moylough.
As has been the case down the years with this group of Milltown players, it seems the bigger the challenge, the better they perform. There is a plethora of athleticism and skill in the Milltown ranks, Liam Costello, Cathal Blake, Jack Kirrane, Michael Martin, Eoin Mannion and James Kavanagh. It might just pan out to be a closer game than people think.
Corofin, meanwhile, have been humming along nicely, and have recorded comfortable victories in all three of their group games. They were able to give game time to Daithi Burke and Michael Farragher towards the end of their final group game against Monivea-Abbey which will stand them in good stead leading into this game.
The other two quarter-finals will be played in Pearse Stadium on Sunday. The first sees the pairing of local rivals Oughterard and Killannin at 1.30pm. Both sides will be frothing at the mouth coming up to the first whistle of this match as this is the tie that both teams will relish.
Oughterard are in their first senior quarter-final since 1987 and will fancy their chances to go a step further on Sunday. Patrick Walsh and Niall Lee have both been in fine form for Oughterard and will have to maintain their scoring threat if they are to get their team over the line.
Killannin will come into the game with serious confidence after their final round group win over St James’. Patrick Sweeney has been their tormentor in chief and he will be leading the fight for Killanin.
The last fixture pits champions Moycullen against Tuam Stars for the third year in succession in what is the most mouth-watering tie of the weekend.
Tommy Carton’s Tuam will be seeking revenge after last year’s defeat when the five-point deficit was not a true reflection of how the game really went. The mini battles around the pitch for this game will be one of its most intriguing aspects. Sean Kelly is likely to pick up Brian Mannion in the Tuam full forward line, as the latter has been the main threat for his side the past two seasons, while Brian O’Donnell is likely to be tasked with trying to nullify Dessie Conneely in the Moycullen full-forward line.
Whatever the outcomes of the games this weekend, there will be only four left come Sunday evening.