Following a hectic weekend of football action last Saturday and Sunday, three of the county football quarter-finals are down for decision this Sunday. There is a double header in Pearse Stadium with Carraroe taking on Milltown at 3.45pm and Salthill/Knocknacarra facing Moycullen at 5.30pm. Claregalway, who saw off NUIG last weekend, take on championship favourites Corofin in Tuam at 5.30pm. The outstanding quarter-final between Tuam Stars and either Cortoon Shamrocks or Mountbellew/Moylough and Micheal Breathnachs could not be fixed due to the ongoing shenanigans with Mountbellew/Moylough’s appeal.
An Cheathrú Rua v Milltown: Sunday (3.45pm ) at Pearse Stadium
An Cheathrú Rua had a powerful victory last Sunday, defeating Annaghdown on a scoreline of 1-18 to 0-13.
They also scored 1-17 in their first round victory over Killanin and if they hit those kinds of figures this weekend they will be in the last four. The two De Paors, Ciarán and Cillín, are hard stopped in the inside line and their power and accuracy make them a formidable duo for any defence.
Niall O’Briain scored a second-half goal to help see off Annaghdown and team manager Michael Ó Maille must have been pleased with his side’s workrate and scoring rate.
Milltown, under the guidance of Cathal Sheridan had a narrow 0-9 to 0-8 win over Caherlistrane and they will have to improve on that scoring performance if they are to advance. Former Galway minor star Michael Martin hit 0-5 and impressed at full-forward, and two frees from Mark Hehir were crucial in their win. They led by 0-7 to 0-3 at half time and, despite two early points in the second half, they were fortunate to scrape home.
They will need big performances from Ciarán Blake at full-back, Darren Mullahy (if available ), Diarmuid Blake and Cathal Blake at midfield. They will also need Martin, Hehir and John Devane at full throttle up front if they are reach the semi-finals.
The bookies have An Cheathrú Rua at 2/1 and Milltown at 1/2.
There is every possibility that Carraroe could win this tie, and the exciting Seán Hehir is a big loss to the Milltown forwards. At 2/1 the Connemara men represent very good value and it should be close. However, I will give the Milltown “Scans” a tentative vote to advance as An Cheathrú Rua conceded five goals to Killanin in the first round and may be a bit suspect at the back.
Silke’s call: Milltown
Salthill/Knocknacarra v Maigh Cuilinn: Sunday (5.30pm ) at Pearse Stadium
After Salthill’s hugely impressive 2-16 to 0-8 victory over a depleted Killererin last Sunday, few will give Maigh Cuilinn much chance in this clash. The city side are 8/15 favourites and, based on what I observed from both sides last weekend, that is a fair reflection on how they stand.
Gerry Hughes’ men cut last year’s county champions to ribbons and their inside forward line of Seamie Crowe, Gearoid O’Leidhinn and the powerful Conor Healy gave buckets of trouble to the Killererin full-backs.
Tom Burke had a splendid game at wing forward and hit some huge points in what was a really good personal performance. County hurler Aonghus Callanan also got through a lot of good work at centre-forward and his fitness and mobility make him a handful for most number sixes.
Stephen O’Reilly was highly effective at midfield and a very fit looking John Boylan hit a few sweet points. Killererin were very poor all over the field and looked a tired team. They could only muster two points in the second half and the Salthill defence was very well marshalled by the likes of team captain Finian Hanley, Ruaidhari McTiernan, Cian Begley and county minor Gearoid Canavan.
Moycullen were too strong for St James last Saturday in Pearse Stadium and they had good performances from the likes of Conor Bohan, Mark Lydon, Gareth Bradshaw, James Faherty, David Wynne, Christopher Hurney, Eanna Noone and the highly effective Philip Lydon at full-forward, who hit 0-5 (2fs ).
Having attended both games last weekend, Salthill looked the more balanced outfit. Once they curtail Bradshaw’s sallies down the middle and Hanley nullifies Philip Lydon, I take them to have too much in the tank for Padraic Oates’ charges.
Silke’s call: Salthill/Knocknacarra
Claregalway v Corofin:
Sunday (5.30pm ) at Tuam Stadium
Corofin are many people’s favourites to collect the Frank Fox this season. Although when Bearna led by 0-9 to 0-7 going into the last few minutes last Saturday they looked anything but county championship winning material.
In fact if Bearna’s Kieran Hanley, who had already scored some terrific points, had scored when he was in a great position to do so, and had put Michael Lydon’s team three to the good, it would probably have been curtains for Corofin.
Instead the former All-Ireland champions rallied and two tremendous scores from Michael Comer and Kieran Comer levelled the tie and helped push the game into extra-time.
Corofin had better substitutes available within two of them, former All-Ireland minor winning hurling captain in 2009 Daithí Burke - who has gargantuan potential in both codes - and Michael Lundy making big contributions. The favourites drove on in those extra 20 minutes and won comfortably in the end, 0-13 to 0-10.
It was tough on Bearna and players such as Paddy Kennedy, John Gannon, Kieran Hanley, Rob Curran, Eoin MacDonnacha, Brian Conneely, John Clifford and Richie O’Carroll who had given their all. However even when they had superior numerical advantage due to Damien Burke’s two yellow cards, they still played exceptionally defensively and kept up to 13 men behind the ball. Had they been more purposeful and ambitious when they had the bit between their teeth they would have won.
Claregalway defeated a weakened NUIG 0-9 to 0-6, with Brian Moran doing most of the damage up front, hitting 0-4 (4fs ). James Nallen and Barry Cullinane were at midfield and David Heaney lined out at full-back. Next Sunday afternoon will be a big step up in class, though, and unless Corofin become overconfident and take their eye off the task in front of them, it is hard to see a win for Eoin O’Donnellan’s charges.
Claregalway are 11/4, with Corofin at 4/11 and 7/1 the draw.
Silke’s call: Corofin