Portumna and Loughrea renew acquaintances in the replay of the county senior semi-final. on Saturday at 4pm in Kenny park.
Again it should attract a big crowd with about 10,000 people in attendance last weekend.
However supporters will hope for more open and exciting hurling than the fare produced last Sunday when most of the excitement was packed into the frantic final 15 minutes.
Apart from that, and despite the enormous crowd, the hurling was dour enough and there were more stoppages than free-flowing hurling.
The teams probably know each other too well at this stage and there was an edge to proceedings that seemed to stifle the game a little. There was a fair bit of niggle and pettiness and nine yellow cards were shown.
Portumna looked to have a game-winning lead in the last quarter, but lost their way badly and were then forced to salvage a draw in the seventh minute of stoppage time after a debatable late free.
The champions, who have only lost two matches in Galway since 2002, opened up a 1-11 to 0-7 lead with just nine minutes remaining and looked home and hosed only for Loughrea to come with a storming finish. A goal from a free by Johnny Coen, another from sub Kenneth Colleran in the final minute of normal time set up for a grandstand finish.
In injury time Johnny Maher and Emmet Mahony hit fabulous points and a minute later Johnny O’Loughlin looked to have won it when he pointed from a magnificent sideline effort.
Portumna, however, do not die easily and they had time for one final attack which ended with an effort from Andy Smith from the right-wing coming back off the post. In the ensuring ruck, the champions were awarded a free by Eoin Shaughnessy and Joe Canning duly obliged to bring us back to Athenry this Saturday.
The prize at stake this weekend is enormous and with Clarinbridge, who easily defeated Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry last weekend, awaiting the winners in the final, both sides will be hell-bent on advancing.
Perhaps we are being overly optimistic expecting a classic this Saturday, but we live in hope.
The county senior hurling final has been fixed for Sunday October 31.
Scorers for Portumna: J Canning (0-7, 0-5f ); D Hayes (0-3 ); C O’Hare (1-0 ); E Lynch (0-1 ); N Hayes (0-1 ); K Hayes (0-1 ); A Smith (0-1 ).
Scorers for Loughrea: N Keary (0-4f ); J Coen (1-1, 1-0f ); K Colleran (1-0 ); J O’Loughlin (0-3, 0-1slc, 0-1f ); J Maher (0-1 ); E Mahony (0-1 ); N Shaughnessy (0-1f ).
PORTUMNA: I Canning; G Heagney, E McEntee, O Canning; P Smith, M Ryan, A O’Donnell; L Smith, E Lynch; A Smith, K Hayes, D Hayes; C O’Hare, J Canning, N Hayes.
LOUGHREA: N Murray; B Mahony, D McClearn, E Mahony; P Hoban, N Shaughnessy, V Maher; E Mahony, G Keary; J Coen, J Maher, J Regan; T Hoban, J O’Loughlin, N Keary. Subs: K Colleran for T Hoban, 49; B Dooley for N Keary, 50.
Intermediate hurling semi-finals
The county hurling intermediate semi-finals are down for decision this Sunday in Duggan Park.
Kilnadeema-Leitrim will take on Killimor at 2.15pm and in the second game, Padraig Pearses will take on Kilconieron.
• Bearna/Na Forbacha Hurling Club will play in the Junior B County final against Ballinderreen at 2pm on Saturday at Kenny Park, Athenry.