Killererin will take on the Mayo senior champions Ballintubber on Sunday at 2.30pm in the Connacht semi-final at Tuam Stadium.
The Galway champions must do so without the inspirational Pádraic Joyce who was married last weekend and is honeymooning overseas.
The three-times All-Star will be an enormous loss to the Barnadearg cause and they will look to their other forwards, Nicky Joyce, Michéal Boyle, Jonathan Keane and Ger Butler, to work harder and score more in his absence.
For that to happen, the midfield dominance they had in the Galway county final success over Corofin must continue. In that fixture Tom Hughes and player-manager Tommie Joyce saw an ocean of ball at midfield. Hughes, in particular, caught some great ball and his aerial supremacy was an integral factor in his side’s triumph.
The former St Jarlath’s college student was in jovial mood earlier in the week when I caught up with him and was looking forward to Sunday’s clash,
“Obviously we would love if Pádraig [Joyce] were available, but he has carried the team in many big games over the last 15 years. It is up to us now to put our shoulders to the wheel to make sure we are in the Connacht final when he comes back. We have plenty of quality forwards to get the scores we need to win, if we can get the ball into them, and we have lads on the bench too bursting to get some game time.
“Ballintubber is a fine side and, with forwards like Alan Dillon and Padraig O’Connor, we will have to be very alert to keep tabs on them. They had not won a county title for decades and they will be coming to Tuam looking to build on that win, so we need to be at our best to get to the final.”
Hughes has collected three senior county titles now - 2004, 2007 and 2010 - and he is in a fine run of form after missing last year’s championship through injury.
“I am getting a run of games together injury free and we worked really hard on our fitness earlier in the year and that is standing to us. Tommie (Joyce ) has done a great job as player-manager this year and the mood in the camp is brilliant. We have been involved in a lot of close games this year, Moycullen, Mountbellew and Corofin, and we have come through them all narrowly.”
“The same result would do just fine on Sunday too. We have been getting plenty of slagging from the boys from 1976 and 1978 about us not being able to win a Connacht title, so we would love to get to the final at least to try to give us a chance to stop them harping on about it.”
*The winners will face either St Brigids’ (Roscommon ) or Glencar-Manorhamilton in the Connacht final on Nov 21.