The first of this year’s county football semi-finals takes place this Sunday (4.15pm ) at Tuam Stadium between Milltown and Corofin.
Milltown have been going very well this year under the guidance of team manager Cathal Sheridan and experienced coach Ned Burns. They have a few good scoring forwards in Michael Martyn, John Devane, Fergal Nicholson, and Mark and Sean Hehir. Damien Brennan does a lot of good work at wing-forward too and he is an impressive player.
At the back they are anchored by Ciarán Blake at full-back and Darren Mullahy at number six. Wing-backs Matthew Flannery and John Martyn are experienced players too and they will not fear Corofin’s forwards.
County player Damien Blake lines out at midfield and is a key player for the side. He will probably be partnered by former Galway u-21 star Cathal Blake.
Milltown are improving with each outing. They did just enough in their 0-9 to 0-8 victory over Caherlistrane and then they were hugely impressive in their big win over Carraroe the last day out. If they can reproduce such a high quality performance, they will be a match for last year’s beaten finalists.
Corofin have struggled to produce a consistent 60 minutes in the championship so far and have limped past Michéal Breathnach’s, drawn with Barna (winning after extra-time ), and it took a replay to dispose of Claregalway.
Their management team of Brian Silke, Pat McHugh and Michael Donnellan will hope that the possibility of getting to another county final and getting past Milltown’s challenge will provide enough motivation to get a top-quality performance from their panel. They will have to produce more than they have produced thus far to win.
They will look to team captain Kieran Fitzgerald and Padraig Kelly to keep things steady in the full-back line. Further out the field, current county players Gary Sice, Alan Burke, Greg Higgins, Kieran McGrath and u-21 All-Ireland winner this year Michael Farragher will be expected to make big contributions.
Up front Kieran Comer, Damien Burke, Micheál Lundy, Alan O’ Donovan and Justin Burke will be given the responsibility of providing the scores to get Corofin over the winning line.
Corofin are 4/6 favourites, with Milltown at 6/4. I do not expect there to be much between the sides and the battle between Greg Higgins and Diarmuid Blake in the middle of the field will have a key bearing on which team advances.
Tuam Stars take on Mountbellew/Moylough
Gerry Kinneavy will take charge of the county quarter-final between Tuam Stars and Mountbellew/Moylough at 2.30pm.
Tuam have not played championship since the first week in August when they defeated Kilkerrin-Clonberne by 1-12 to 1-11. It is difficult to gauge how they will perform this weekend after such a long break, but they were impressive in a recent league win over Salthill.
Alan Flynn will have them in top shape and, if Gary O’ Donnell, David Connern, Tony Costello, Jamie Murphy, Shane Curtin and Shane Gaffney hit form, they will fancy their chances against Mountbellew/Moylough.
Mountbellew were very dependent on Joe Bergin last weekend in their win over Cortoon and, if he was nullified, it would be a massive boost to Tuam’s chances of reaching the last four and a clash with Salthill/Knocknacarra.
This Sunday will be Mountbellew/Moylough’s fourth weekend in championship action and that can take its toll on players too. With so many imponderables it is a very hard game to call. 6/1 the draw could be the way to go.
Draw for weekend away at double header
There will be a draw at half time between Milltown and Corofin on Sunday for all patrons who paid at the gate for entry to the attractive double header. The winner drawn will get a weekend away for two and an evening meal at the Regency Hotel in Dublin courtesy of John Glynn