Fourteen of the 16 teams left in the county championship are scheduled to be in action this weekend. There is a double header at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening with the other five games fixed for Sunday. The Cortoon Shamrocks and Micheal Breathnachs fixture cannot go ahead as Mountbellew/Moylough continue with their ill thought out appeal process. They have been beaten twice on the field of play this season already and they should just move on from those defeats. Four of Sunday’s games are down as double headers at Corofin and Tuam, with Carraroe and Annaghdown on in Pearse Stadium. There will be extra time in any of the games that end in a draw.
St James v Maigh Cuilinn:
Saturday at 5.30pm in Pearse Stadium
St James were impressive winners in their second round clash over city rivals St Michael’s to get back into the championship via the back door. They are an experienced outfit and have played in many big games over the past season or two. They will look to Eoin Concannon to provide leadership and scoring power up front. Paul Conroy and Mark Kelly are an established midfield partnership and their duel with Maigh Cuilinn’s Mark Lydon will be a factor in who gets to the quarter-finals. Padriac Oates and Don Connellan are in charge of Maigh Cuilinn this season and they squeezed past Bearna in the first round. One issue for them is that their side can be very dependent on Philip Lydon’s boot from placed balls.
Corofin vs Bearna :
Saturday at 7.15pm in Pearse Stadium
Bearna got their title ambitions back on track with a 2-10 to 0-11 win over Leitir Mór in the qualifiers. They will know Corofin’s style of football and players very well after going out to them in last year’s county semi-final. Mike Lydon is in charge this year and his team usually play a defensive game that can be difficult to break down. The side work very hard for each other, with DD Flaherty usually one of their key scorers along with Brian Conneely. Corofin have a new management team of Brian Silke, Pat McHugh and Michael Donnellan this season and will look to the likes of Damien Burke, Gary Sice and Kieran Comer to provide the scores to get into the hat for the quarter-finals.
Annaghdown vs An Cheathru Rua: Sunday at 2pm in Pearse Stadium
Annaghdown defeated Mountbellew by two points, 3-4 to 0-11 in the first round and they will believe that they are capable of advancing in this tie too. Niall Coleman is a key player for them around the middle and they will need Frankie Burke in good scoring form if they are to advance. Damien Burke, Pa Joe Fahy and Niall Farragher were also impressive in their victory in the first round. An Cheathra Rua defeated Killanin, on the unusual score-line of 1-17 to 5-2 in their first round clash, with Cillian and Ciarán De Paor doing most of the scoring for the West board men.
There is usually very little between these sides and Sunday’s encounter is unlikely to be any different.
Tuam Stars vs Kilkerrin/Clonberne Sunday at 2pm in Corofin
It is never easy to beat the same team twice in any season and that is what Tuam must do on Sunday. They beat John Divilly’s charges 3-14 to 1-8 the last day out with 10 different Tuam players on the score-sheet, including John Ross Bodkin, John Lawless, David Connern, Shane Curtin and Rory Gaffney, who hit two late goals. Alan Flynn will have his team in good shape and if they are all available they are good enough to advance to the next round.
Salthill-Knocknacarra vs Killererin: Sunday at 3.45 in Corofin
These sides have met on many occasions over the past few seasons with the current county champions usually having too much for the former All-Ireland champions. Killererin are without two of their young stars in Tomás Fahy and Micheal Boyle, and Jonathan Keane is out with a cruciate ligament injury and they are big losses. Salthill are also without Seán Armstrong, who is away. They would love to get one over on the county champions and they won’t get many better chances than this Sunday in Corofin.
Milltown vs Caherlistrane:
Sunday at 5.30pm in Tuam Stadium
Milltown have been going well in training over the past few weeks and, with Mark Hehir up front, Diarmuid Blake and Darren Mullahy and a few Blakes knocking around, they are never easily beaten. Sean Hehir is a big loss through injury. If they are very disciplined at the back and can keep Cormac Bane in check they can reach the last eight.
Claregalway vs NUIG:
Sunday at 7.15 pm in Tuam Stadium
It is never easy to judge with NUIG how they will go as you don’t know who they will have in their squad on any given Sunday. Claregalway had an impressive 1-17 to 1-9 win over St James in the first round, with Barry Cullinane lording things at midfield and Danny Cummins to the fore.
If NUIG have all their county players available they will be hard stopped but the temptation is to go for the squad that has been together over the past few months.