The Salthill/Knocknacarra footballers will head down the N17 made famous by the Sawdoctor’s with its stone walls and green grass around noon this Sunday to take on Tuam Stars in the replay (2pm ) of the county semi-final at Tuam Stadium.
Gerry Hughes’ Salthill men will again start as slight favourites to advance.
They were fortunate to force a draw last Sunday in their own back yard and, but for a distinct lack of composure and experience from Tuam’s Shane Gaffney and Shane Curtin in the last few minutes, they would have exited this year’s championship. With Salthill on their knees in the last few minutes, both young men took the wrong option and blazed some bad wides. They took their foot from Salthill’s neck and substitute Sean Armstrong showed his coolness and skill by hitting a sweet equaliser.
With the game deep in injury time, it looked like Salthill were going to get one more chance to eke out a win, but Brendan Kinneavy blew up the play with the sky blues on the attack and in possession of the leather.
The city side was annoyed with his decision and they had a point (pardon the pun ). However they need to reflect on their own second-half performance which was poor and disjointed. Only Finian Hanley could really feel he was at the top of his game and he was rock solid at number three.
Tough decisions for Tuam management
Tuam manager Alan Flynn and his management team will have some hard decisions to make before they settle on their starting 15 for this Sunday and the likes of Darren Kelly, who impressed on his introduction, will feel he merits inclusion from the start.
Shane Gaffney was eventually withdrawn last Sunday and his 2-2 against Mountbellew seems like a long time ago. He needs to be more careful with his shot selection or he will find his starting place in jeopardy.
Tuam will believe they can win this game on home turf and they will look to Noel Henry, Tony Costello, Jamie Murphy, David Connern and Ian McGough who all impressed as stages last Sunday to come through for them again.
There is very little between the sides and both squads will look to improve on their performances from last Sunday.
I think Salthill have greater scope for improvement and, if Sean Armstrong can start and finish the game despite a wonky hamstring, he has the scoring potential to kick his team into a title clash with Corofin.
Big Conor Healy is likely to be out and he is a big loss.
Mulhollands has left the odds the same as last weekend with Salthill at 4/5 and Tuam at 5/4 and the draw at 6/1. It should be close.
However my weekly stipend is on a narrow win for the Seasiders over the Shams.