Tuam Stars can win the replay with Mountbellew

Tuam Stars and Mountbellew/Moylough renew acquaintances again this Sunday in Tuam Stadium (3.30pm ) for the replay of the county quarter-final after they drew 2-4 to 0-10 last weekend.

Mountbellew/Moylough are certainly getting value on the playing front since their sucessful summer appeal process to be reinstated to the senior championship.

This Sunday will be their fifth weekend on the trot in action and the two games against Cortoon went to extra-time. It will be interesting to see if they can keep that enormous physical and mental output going strong and push onto a semi-final clash with Salthill.

They should have won last Sunday as they lorded the possession stakes in the final quarter and had real opportunities to nick a winning point or two. With Tuam finding it incredibly difficult to score, Joe Bergin and David Hogan both missed chances that would have swung the tie the black and amber way.

Tuam were disappointing

Tuam were poor, particularly in the second half when they were outscored 0-4 to 0-1.

Team manager and new Galway selector Alan Flynn will be expecting a much more efficient, high tempo, and dynamic display this Sunday.

They had not played championship for a long time and that may have affected their performance. That they could only muster a single score in the entire second 30 minutes gives an indication of the paucity of their attacking efforts.

One man who stands clear of any criticism in that department is exciting corner forward Shane Gaffney, who rifled home 2-2 out of Tuam’s total of 2-4. His only score from play, a point five minutes into the second half, was a stunning effort and a real gem.

He won a free, took it short, worked hard to get back into the play, and popped over a super effort after five minutes of the second half. It was the best score of the game and was Tuam’s last.

Mountbellew have issues up front too and only scored two points from play, with the marvellous Garry Sweeney and Joe Bergin raising flags in the first half. They had all the momentum in the last quarter and hit the last three points of the game from frees, Cathal Kenny with two and young James Collevy with another. However they struggled to score freely from play and will need more penetration from David Hogan at full-forward, Stephen Boyle and young Paul Donnellan, if they are to advance.

Tuam will probably start u-21 star Conor Doherty in the replay and his powerful running would be a big addition up front. David Connern also did very well at wing-back on his introduction and should have nailed down a starting slot. Ian McGough and team captain Tony Costello were powerful in the centre of the Tuam defence and did most to keep their championship aspirations intact.

The loss of the scoring power of Rory Gaffney, who is committed to Limerick City, is a knock to their chances, but it is something with which they must cope. They were far from impressive last Sunday, but they have scope to improve.

Verdict: I went for a draw at 6/1 on these pages last Thursday, but I think Tuam will win the replay. If Jamie Murphy, Darren Kelly, Gary O’Donnell, Conor Doherty and John Lawless can kick on and offer some support to Shane Gaffney up front, they should have the freshness and ambition to win. They are 6/5 outsiders to win with Mulhollands, with Mountbellew at 10/11. I take the Stars to sneak through.

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