Portumna still favourites as championship hots up

The Stone Crushing and Recycling Ltd Galway Senior Hurling Championship is hotting up with four quarter-finals down for decision this weekend.

Champions Portumna take on Castlegar, Mullagh face Clarinbridge; Beagh play Loughrea, while city side Liam Mellows is up against Gort.

All games will be played at Athenry.

Portumna, unbeaten again this season, must be firm favourites to overcome Castlegar when they meet on Saturday at 4pm. On the hunt for a third successive title, Portumna will be expected to have too much fire power up front for a Castlegar side that last won the championship in 1984.

Following their meeting, it is the turn of Mullagh and Clarinbridge at 5.30pm. Mullagh have taken this year’s senior championship by surprise. Although they lost to both Sarsfields and Gort in the group stages, they drew with St Thomas 1 - 13 and overcame Craughwell by 1- 15 to 0 - 16. However they came right in the preliminary quarter-finals, first when they brought Athenry to a replay and last Sunday they knocked out the former kingpins with a dominant second-half, winning by 1- 10 to 3 - 16.

That will certainly have given Mullagh great confidence, but they will not get it so easy against Clarinbridge, who were comfortable 0 - 18 to 1 - 8 winners over Killimordaly last Sunday. Three group wins, Kinvara, Cappataggle, and Kiltormer, with one defeat to Liam Mellows saw them just edge a highly competitive group C.

On Sunday the double header begins at 4pm with the meeting of Beagh and Loughrea. Loughrea were comfortable group D winners, accounting for Killimordaly, Carnmore, and Castlegar. The only blip was a 1 - 11 to 0 - 14 draw with Ardrahan,but the 2006 champions will be favourites to advance to the semi-finals against Beagh, who will not be expected to give up easily.

The last of the quarter-final action this weekend sees city side Liam Mellows up against Gort.

Mellows come into the match after victory over Ardrahan in last weekend’s preliminary quarter-final replay when they were comfortable 2- 13 to 0 - 11 winners. Although they struggled somewhat in the group stages, they must fancy their chances. However the group A winners have only slipped up once - a surprise defeat to a lowly Craughwell.

Gort showed their pedigree last year when advancing to the final, and although they struggled against the reigning champions in the second half, their work ethic and endeavour will make life difficult for the city side.


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