The race for Frank Fox is now hotting up after a twelve-week group stage.
The final round of the Galway Senior Football Championship produced ultra competitive games and also a couple of surprise results as the quarter-finalists and the seedings are now known.
The supposed group of death culminated in three extremely tight affairs, and did disappoint.
On Sunday afternoon the meeting of Tuam Stars and Corofin in Tuam Stadium resulted in a draw.
Perhaps there was more on the line for Tuam Stars with their place in the last eight still uncertain pre-game, but there was nothing to separate the sides. In the end the game finished 0-16 apiece in what was an open and entertaining encounter which has been the trend of late when these age-old rivals clash. Both teams enter the draw for the quarter-finals as second seeds.
Naomh Anna Leitir Móir produced the result of the weekend as they scored 1-02 late on to equalise against Moycullen, one of the favourites to go all the way this year. This secured their senior status for 2023 and marks a successful campaign for a team just returning from intermediate.
An Spidéal secured their first victory of the campaign with a late Antaine O’Laoi penalty to defeat Oughterard, and oth teams will enter the relegation play-offs.
Mountbellew-Moylough steamrolled their way through the group stages with a 14-point victory over St James’. Once again the trio of Barry McHugh, Eoin Finnerty and Patrick Kelly were in phenomenal form for the champions who are this year’s top scorers in the championship. Kelly has now raised a green flag in each of the group games. St James’ will enter the relegation play-offs as they finished second from bottom on two points.
Salthill-Knocknacarra maintained their good form when hammering An Cheathrú Rua, knowing beforehand that a big margin of victory would give them a great chance of entering the quarter-final draw as a top seed, and so it proved. John O’Mahony’s side has been quietly going about its business in an impressive manner.
Barna and Annaghdown was postponed until Tuesday night due to a bereavement in Barna - Annaghdown needed to win by 12 points to progress and they scraped through to the quarter-finals with a 1-17 to 0-8 point win.
The fixture of the weekend on paper was that of Milltown and Claregalway, with both teams entering the game knowing a win for either side would have their team top of the group and into the quarter-finals as top seed.
Milltown were trailing by three entering the dying embers of the game, but two Mark Hehir frees and a Michael Martin point gave the Scans a draw and with it a fighting chance of making the last eight as they awaited the results of Annaghdown versus Barna.
However, Claregalway finished in second in the group and through to the quarter-finals, while their results allowed St Michael’s to capitalise and top the group as they overcame Monivea-Abbey by two points in Tuam Stadium. Monivea-Abbey are now in a relegation play-off, joined by Caherlistrane who suffered an 11-point defeat to Killannin, who are safe for 2023.
Group 1: An Spidéal 2-08 Oughterard 3-04; Moycullen 1-11 Naomh Anna Leitir Móir 2-08; Corofin 0-16 Tuam Stars 0-16.
Group 2: Mountbellew-Moylough 1-23 St James’ 1-09; Salthill-Knocknacarra 5-16; An Cheathrú Rua 0-09; Barna Annaghdown 1-17 to 0-8
Group 3: Milltown 0-12 Claregalway 0-12; St Michael’s 0-11 Monivea-Abbey 0-09; Killanin 2-14 Caherlistrane 0-09.
Quarter final fixtures: Salthill/Knocknacarra v Tuam; St Michael's v Annaghdown; Maigh Cuilinn v Claregalway; Mountbellew Moylough v Corofin. Games to be played the weekend of October 8/9
Galway IFC quarter-finals
There were some massive upsets at the weekend with some favourites losing out at the crunch stage of the championship. The four semi-finalists are now known for the intermediate football championship and the pairings are complete. Corofin will face Dunmore MacHales, and Kilconly will play Oiléain Árann.
Oiléain Árann continued their 100 per cent record this season in dramatic fashion as they claimed a late one-point victory over their rivals Michéal Breathnachs. The islanders will fancy themselves to go all the way given their form to date under the stewardship of ex Galway senior selector and minor manager Stephen Joyce.
What makes their run even more impressive is having advanced this far without their best player, Seán Mulkerrin, who is missing due to the injury he sustained early in the year. Michéal Breathnach’s will be devastated with the manner of defeat having been in a strong position heading down the stretch before Peter O’Donnchadha’s goal broke their hearts. It is back to the drawing board again for Breathnach’s, who no doubt will not be far off again next season.
Dunmore MacHales justified their heavy favourites' status with a four-point victory over Kilkerrin-Clonberne. The Shafts seem like a team on a mission following last year’s final defeat and will be many people’s favourites to do so this season. They definitely have the firepower up top with Jake Slattery and Padraig Costello impressing at the weekend.
That is exactly what Kilkerrin-Clonberne were missing with a heavy reliance on Jonathon Ryan to grab the scores up front. Kilkerrin-Clonberne will be disappointed, but overall it has been a decent campaign for a team adjusting without Shane Walsh, who was so central to them for the last decade or so.
As well as entering the draw for the senior quarter-finals, Corofin are in the hunt for the last four of the intermediate championship following a three-point victory over a heavily fancied St Brendan’s. St Brendan’s started the game without their best defender Mairtín Quinn and it cost them early on as Patrick Egan netted for Corofin in the first minute.
Rory Cunningham struck six first-half points as St Brendan’s imposed themselves, but in the second half their defenders were not able for the pace and directness of Colin Kelly in the Corofin full-forward line. St Brendan’s, however, having been promoted to intermediate in 2021, produced another strong season and will be looking to push on again in 2023.
Glenamaddy were many people’s favourites for promotion ahead of this weekend heading into their clash with Kilconly in Tuam Stadium. However, a defiant Kilconly team had other ideas with Conor Marsden and Paul Mannion leading the charge for them. Kilconly were reduced to 14 men after 40 minutes when Niall Daly was shown a straight red card which made it an uphill task.
Despite looking dead and buried in added time, after falling behind by a point to a brilliant Cormac Haslam free, Kilconly’s Teddy Kerrigan lashed over a wonder point to bring the game to extra time. Fourteen man Kilconly then ground it out to edge Glenamaddy by three and get themselves in the last four.
Results: Galway IFC quarter finals, Oileáin Árann 1-15 Micheál Breathnach 0-17; Dunmore MacHales 1-11 Kilkerrin-Clonberne 1-07; Corofin 2-12 St Brendan’s 0-15; Kilconly 2-14 Glenamaddy 1-14 AET.
Galway IFC relegation semi-final: Oranmore-Maree 2-18 Headford 2-13; Killererin 1-12 Williamstown 0-14.
Semi final fixtures: Dunmore v Corofin B; Oileáin Árann v Kilconly. Games to be played weekend October 8/9.