Football championship quarter-finals down for decision this weekend


v St Brendan’s

Tuam Stadium 5pm Saturday

Ref: M McGearailt

There is no such thing as a “sure thing” in any sport and club football can be an especially difficult arena when making predictions. However it would take an enormous leap of faith for anyone to predict anything but a victory for the city boys in this encounter.

Salthill have advanced following some impressive victories over Killererin and Milltown, and in Sean Armstrong and Seamie Crowe they have two in-form scoring forwards the likes of which most clubs would sell a bit of their home pitch for.

The Ballygar lads had to come through the back door and had narrow wins over Killerrin/Clonberne and Glenamaddy to reach this stage.

They are a resilient bunch and in players like Declan Nolan, Darragh O’Malley, Tomas Coyne, Pat Cunningham, and Adrian Martin, they have some genuine quality in their side.

Assuming that Finian Hanley and the two Begleys can keep the St Brendan’s forwards to 12 points or less, you’d expect the Salthill forwards to be able to shoot a winning tally at the other end.

Tuam Stars v Caltra

Tuam Stadium 6.30pm Saturday:

Ref: F Kinneen

The Stars, under the impressive guidance of Alan Flynn, gave a scintillating display against Micheal Breathnach’s in the last round with all their forwards getting on the scoresheet.

In Gary O’Donnell and Michael Hogan they have an improving midfield. O’Donnell will have learnt a lot from his year with the Galway seniors and he got on an awful lot of ball the last day out. He is an energetic and lively player and his fitness and ability to work the field will be vital if Tuam are to progress.

Up front they will look to Conor Doherty at centre-forward to make the breaks that will set up scoring chances for the likes of Shane Curtin, John Ross Bodkin, Darren Kelly, and Ja Fallon, who has been operating as an impact sub.

Caltra hit 3-13 last weekend in the league against Mountbellew/Moylough. That is serious shooting and it will be interesting to see if Tuam have the defensive know-how to nullify the likes of Michael Meehan, Matthew Killilea, and the erudite talent of young Michael Kelly. The availability of team captain Tony Costello is a big plus in that regard.

Tuam manager Alan Kelly has worked very hard with his side this year and he is under no illusions about the task facing them.

“Caltra have been there before and they are an experienced outfit. They have a lot of men who won All-Ireland club medals in 2004 and we will have to be at our very best both defensively and up front to make the semi-finals. They have some fantastic players and we know that, but you can’t expect easy games at this stage and we know that Caltra will be hard beaten. That said, our lads have worked terrifically hard all season and we will be going out to give it our very best shot.”

Mountbellew/Moylough v Annaghdown

Tuam Stadium 5pm Sunday

Ref: B Kinneavy

One of the reasons many supporters are looking forward to this game is the potential battle of the two county midfielders, Niall Coleman and the influential Joe Bergin. Coleman was a key player for his side in their narrow victory over Barna in the last round.

They are also very dependent on younger brother Mathias to do damage in the forwards, along side Frankie Burke. Barna played an extra defender at the back to nullify their threat and it worked extremely well for most of that game.

Mountbellew have been knocking on the door of winning a county championship over the past decade, but they have lacked the killer instinct in some games they could have won. The club has four county titles in the roll of honour, but you have to go back to 1986 for their last Frank Fox.

They were not expected to beat Caherlistrane the last day out, but they came good, and in Bergin, Colm Colleran, Patrick Gardiner, David Donnellan, and Stephen Boyle they have some really gutsy and committed players.

Hard to call who’ll come through in this one, but it should provide plenty high quality championship effort and commitment.

If Annaghdown can stop Bergin, they’ll have one foot in the last four.

This should be a humdinger.

Killererin’s highly rated forwards against Corofin’s much vaunted rearguard which could line out with four county players if team manager Ger Keane so wished.

That is unlikely though, and both Alan Burke and Gary Sice are expected to be given more offensive positions.

Burke offers a lot of energy and pace when selected at centre-forward and his possible clash with the highly impressive Tomas Fahy could be crucial. Fahy is very creative and he is a good linkman, getting good ball up to the likes of Padraig Joyce who then offloads to Nicky Joyce and Shane Hughes in the inside line.

Tommie Joyce is back in the frame too and may play as a third midfielder alongside Jonathan Keane and David Hansberry.

This should go right down to the wire. If Corofin can tie up the Joyces and get early ball into their forwards, they can advance, but that is easier said than done.

A game not to be missed.


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