Salthill-Knocknacarra v Micheal Breathnach
Saturday 7.15pm Pearse Stadium
First up on Saturday evening at Pearse Stadium are Salthill-Knocknacarra and Micheal Breathnachs. The Salthill men were surprise losers to Carna-Caiseal (2-6 to 0-11 ) the last day out and have not been going well over the past few weeks.
Yet they will be expected to have too much for Micheal Breathnachs who suffered a very heavy defeat to Corofin in their first round.
Na Breathnaigh will be without Peadar Óg O Griofa for the season, while All-Ireland winning u-21 captain Fointán Ó Curraoin, who did not play for the Galway seniors in their challenge last Friday against Sligo, is also unlikely to feature.
Those two absences swing the advantage significantly towards last year’s county champions. However a concern for Salthill manager Cathal McGinley is that Seán Armstrong dominated the scoring stakes against Carna-Caisea, hitting 0-10 of their 0-11 tally, and he needs more of his forwards to row in with a greater scoring contribution.
The return of county senior captain Finian Hanley should help steady the ship, and it would be a shock if they were to go out at this juncture.
St James v Caherlistrane
Saturday 7.30pm Tuam Stadium
Caherlistrane team manager Larry Bane will have rightly felt his side deserved to go to extra time against Milltown in its one-point first-round defeat.
He will look for big displays from his two key forwards, Eric Monahan and Cormac Bane, who both shot four points in that loss. However, all those eight points came from frees, and the only other scorer was wing-back Éanne Glynn with 1-1 from play. Those stats need to be improved..
Caherlistrane centre-back Rory Glynn had a splendid game the last day out and it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his good form. When Glynn plays at the top of his game, he looks like a guy who should be wearing a county senior jersey.
St James lost to Caltra in their first round by 2-11 to 2-9 and they will need big displays on Saturday evening from Paul Conroy, Johnny Duane, Mark Kelly, Tommy Walsh and David O’ Connell if they are to avoid getting caught up in the relegation quagmire.
Maigh Cuillin v Annaghdown
Sunday 3.45pm Pearse Stadium
Annaghdown lost out to Kilkerrin/Clonberne by two points after extra-time in their first-round clash and, with high calibre players like county u-21 star Damien Comer, Niall Coleman, Fergal Doherty, Enda Mullarkey, Eoin Kerin and team captain Frankie Burke, they will fancy their chances against Moycullen.
Willie Hughes is Annaghdown team manager this year and he will be telling his charges that if they can get over this fence on Sunday, and with the right draw in the next round, they could go on a bit of a run in the championship.
Martin Cooke is the Moycullen bainisteoir again this year and his charges lost to Kilconly by 2-12 to 2-9 in the first round after conceding a few late scores, including a game-changing goal to John Kerrigan.
If Moycullen are to advance, they will need really big performances from dual star Mark Lydon at midfield, their county u-21 players Eoin Walsh and Philip Ezegallis, Conor Bohan and Philip Lydon up front, and Gareth Bradshaw, who should be keen to make amends for his costly double yellow against Kilconly.
Mountbellew-Moylough v Bearna
Sunday 4.15pm Tuam Stadium
Val Daly has assembled a well-balanced Mountbellew-Moylough side this year and they produced a reasonably solid showing before losing to Leitir Mór by 2-14 to 2-11 in the first round.
They have a few players with intercounty experience and, in Joe Bergin, they have a player who can have a huge influence on club proceedings when he is in the mood. Joss Moore and Gary Sweeney both saw senior intercounty action in the heavy defeat to Mayo and they would both like a good club championship run.
Guys like Joe Meehan, Stephen Boyle, Brian Donnellan, David Neary and the hugely experienced Patrick Gardiner, all played in the 2009 county final and replay, and they have considerable experience at this stage. That experience is augmented by some talented youngsters like Michael Daly.
Bearna were poor in their defeat to Carraroe and failed to score from play. Their seven points all came from frees from centre-forward Tom Curran and they will have to improve enormously if they are to avoid the relegation play-offs.
Killererin v Cortoon-Shamrocks
Sunday 6pm Tuam Stadium
Cortoon went down heavily, 1-13 to 1-2, against Tuam in the first round and they will have to improve if they are to defeat Billy Joyce’s charges.
On paper Cortoon look a reasonable side.
Galway u-21 stars Adrian and Paul Varley, and Cathal Mulryan are there. Experienced players, Donal O’ Neill, David Finnegan, David Warde, Brion Gilmore and former All-Star Derek Savage backbone the side, but they are still a few players short to be a top club outfit.
Killererin, too, are not what they were. The real key stars who powered them to four county titles since 1999 are no spring chickens anymore and they looked very average in their eight-point defeat to St Michael’s (2-10 to 0-8 ).
They still have Nicky and Padraig Joyce up front and guys like Micheal Boyle, Tom Hughes, Colin Forde, Damian Flaherty, Declan Kelly and Ian Reddington who all won county medals in 2010.
While it is an aging Killererin side, they will believe they still have too much guile for Cortoon.