The quarter-final stage of the Brooks Group Galway senior hurling championship has arrived with St Thomas’ clear favourites to claim their fifth title in six years after last year’s finalists Turloughmore were dramatically knocked out by Kilnadeema-Leitrim.
Seemingly cruising with a 10-point lead in hand in the second half, Turloughmore suffered after Daithí Burke was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Dylan Towolawi’s goal sparked a furious charge from Kilnadeema-Leitrim, with Mikey Lynch’s injury-time major sealing a famous 2-17 to 1-17 win.
Des Roche’s side will now return to Duggan Park this weekend to face Craughwell in the last eight on Sunday afternoon, the second part of a double-header which also features St Thomas’ taking on a buoyant Kilconieron side.
The 2020 intermediate champions needed extra time to get the better of Padraig Pearses last Sunday, as Conor Fahy kept Pearses in the hunt with a dramatic leveller. Goals by Sean Connaughton and Eamon Hickey proved decisive, though, as Kilconieron ran out 2-19 to 0-18 victors. The road now rises very steeply for a side very much in bonus territory having also made the leap to senior A next year. However they will surely relish a crack at a St Thomas’ outift looking to achieve a four-in-a-row that has not been achieved since the famous Turloughmore era of dominance in the 1960s.
Clarinbridge are now ranked as their closest contenders after they got the better of Loughrea in a rain-sodden game on Saturday, eventually emerging 1-10 to 1-7 winners.
Mark Kennedy’s goal early in the second half gave Clarinbridge a five-point cushion, and although Shane O’Brien netted in the closing stages, Loughrea were unable to force a levelling goal. Clarinbridge go forward to face Tommy Larkins, who will no doubt relish the as underdogs' tag in this tie, despite topping a fiercely competitive group. That game will take place on Sunday afternoon in Kenny Park, with a 3.30pm throw-in.
Gort was the fourth team to secure a last eight spot when overcoming a Portumna side that was without the injured Joe Canning, but still pushed Mattie Murphy’s men all the way.
Gort trailed by seven at half-time, but remarkably scored 1-14 in the second period to claim the win by the bare minimum, 1-22 to 2-18. They now travel into Pearse Stadium to take on Cappataggle at 1pm on Sunday in what could be the game of the weekend. Cappataggle will believe they are still best equipped to dethrone St Thomas’, while Gort are on the hunt for a first county title since 2014.
The first of the senior relegation play-offs will also take place this weekend, with Tynagh Abbey/Duniry and Ballinderreen squaring off in Loughrea on Saturday.
The quarter-finals of the intermediate championship are also down for decision, with Carnmore taking on Moycullen, and Sylane going up against Killimor on Saturday. On Sunday Kinvara will hope to stay on track for a swift return to senior when they face Meelick-Eyrecourt, while Rahoon-Newcastle take on Abbeyknockmoy.