Thrilling conclusion to Galway Senior Hurling Championship Group Stages

By Ivan Smyth

The latest round of club action contained plenty of drama with teams seeing their Championship campaigns extended while others suffered heart breaking exits. Here we provide a round-up of all the weekend’s games in what was a hectic weekend in the Galway Senior hurling Championship.

Senior A

Group One

Loughrea 3-16 Tynagh/Abbey/Duniry 2-14

Loughrea qualified for the knockout stages of the Championship in dramatic fashion as a 65th minute point from Martin McManus sealed their progression. With Cappataggle beating Tommy Larkins in the other group game, each team finished level on points with Cappataggle topping the group due to their superior score difference. Loughrea and Tommy Larkins both had an identical score difference of +5 but Loughrea progressed as they accrued more scores across their group games.

Loughrea were dealt a huge blow in the fourth minute of this game when Jamie Ryan received a straight red card but they raced in to an 0-8 to 0-1 lead with Neil Keary knocking over four scores. Tynagh/Abbey/Duniry grew in to the contest as they cut their deficit to three points but an Anthony Burns goal on the stroke of half time helped Loughrea lead 1-10 to 0-6. The second half was an even affair with Loughrea’s Emmet Mahoney finding the net for Loughrea but Padraig Breheny responded with a goal in the 63rd minute for Tynagh/Abbey/Duniry. Shane O’Brien then found the net for Loughrea before McManus’ late point sealed Loughrea’s place in the quarter finals.

Jeffrey Lynskey who is involved in the Loughrea backroom team this year

Cappataggle 0-15 Tommy Larkins 0-12

In a keenly fought encounter, it was Capptaggle who emerged victorious and sealed top spot in the group as they overcame Tommy Larkins in Kenny Park on Saturday evening. Anything other than a victory would have seen Cappataggle eliminated from the Championship but they showed all their experience to gain the victory and a place in the quarter finals. Backed by the wind, Capptaggle started the quicker of the two sides as they pushed 0-6 to 0-3 in front with Alan Dolan accurate from frees with Donal and Jarlath Mannion causing problems for the Tommy Larkins defence. Jason Flynn struck an outstanding to reduce his side’s deficit but Donal Mannion’s point helped Cappataggle lead by 0-10 to 0-8 at half time. Last year’s county semi-finalists shot the first three points of the second half to extend their lead to five. Tommy Larkins did not score for the first 15 minutes of the second half despite playing with the wind. Flynn helped to keep his side in touch but Capptaggle’s experience shone through as they held on or a three-point win.

Cappataggle and Loughrea progress to the last eight where they await the result of the preliminary quarter finals while Tynagh/Abbey/Duniry are relegated to the Senior B Championship.

Group Two

Liam Mellows 2-13 Oranmore/Maree 0-17

Liam Mellows secured their place in the knockout stages of the Championship as they eliminated Oranmore/Maree in this do or die battle. With both teams level on the points, both teams knew a win would be enough to secure a spot in the preliminary quarter finals. Oranmore/Maree had the advantage of the elements in the first 30 minutes of this contest and they moved 0-4 to 0-2 ahead at the first water break. They hit five of the next seven scores to increase their lead with Niall Burke hitting five points during this period. In the 29th minute Conor Hynes flicked a long delivery to the net and Tadhg Haran added a free for Liam Mellows as they trailed by only two point at half time, 1-5 to 0-10. Aenghus Callanan notched a point for Liam Mellows before Liam Mellows were awarded a penalty when Conor Kavanagh was fouled. Tadhg Haran blasted to the net but Niall Burke (two) and Ross Malone responded for Oranmore/Maree. In a frantic finale, Liam Mellows found the necessary scores as they held out for crucial victory.

Tadgh Haran who was in top form for Liam Mellows scoring 1-08

Clarinbridge 0-23 Turloughmore 0-16

With Turloughmore already assured of top spot in the group and Clarinbridge knowing that they would be playing Senior B hurling next year, this game was effectively a dead rubber. Clarinbridge did secure a morale boosting victory as they overcame last year’s county semi-finalists. Turloughmre rung the changes as they sought to test the strength of their panel. Clarinbridge looked the sharper side in the early stages as they made good use of the wind at their backs in a dominant opening half display. Liam Donoghue’s Clarinbridge side started quick as they moved 0-7 to 0-1 ahead with only seven minutes played. Evan Niland and TJ Brennan shot some excellent scores as Clarinbridge built a commanding 0-12 to 0-4 lead. Turloughmore hit back as they struck nine points before the break but it was Clarinbridge who enjoyed a four point half time advantage. Turloughmore played with the wind in the second period but Clarinbridge displayed their grit when they struck five unanswered points in the third quarter as they moved 0-22 to 0-13 clear. These scores helped them to a comfortable seven-point win.

Turlughmore progress to the quarter finals while Liam Mellows face Gort in the pick of the preliminary quarter finals.

Group Three

St Thomas’ 4-38 Portumna 0-15

In what was a dead rubber with St Thomas’ already through to the quarter finals and Portumna relegated it was last year’s county champions who struck a staggering 4-38 to rub salt in Portumna’s wounds. Oisin Burke found the net for St Thomas’ as they propelled themselves in to a 1-10 to 0-5 lead within the opening ten minutes. St Thomas’ were ruthless throughout and they found the net once more in the 21st minute through Oisin Flannery. Joe Canning and Ronan O’Meara found the target for Portumna before the break but St Thomas’ still lead by 2-23 to 0-13 at half time. St. Thomas’, who are chasing three county titles in a row, struck to goals in the space of a minute. David Burke grabbed the first after a one-two with Damien Finnerty before Conor Cooney, who finished with a personal tally of 1-15, struck his side’s fourth goal. The scores dried up for Portumna as two Joe Canning frees was all they could muster in the second half. St Thomas’ highlighted their attacking quality as they emerged 35-point winners.

Sarsfields 3-11 Castlegar 0-19

A 67th minute goal by Kevin Cooney broke Castlegar hearts as Sarsfields progressed to the preliminary quarter finals by the narrowest of margins. After their two point defeat to St. Thomas’ in the opening round, Castlegar will be disappointed to fall short in their attempts to reach the knockout stages. They led this game by 0-19 to 2-8 approaching injury time but three quick fire points were followed by Cooney’s late goal from a free as Sarsfields showed their big game experience when it counted most. Castlegar were aided by a strong wind in the opening half and they built up a 0-13 to 1-4 lead at half time with Ger Farragher hitting eight points for his side. Alex Connaire grabbed his side’s goal as he broke on to  a long Conor Cooney delivery. Farragher and Niall Morrissey struck two points each for their respective sides as Castlegar maintained their advantage. Farragher added three more frees but Kevin Cooney soled through and rifled a shot to the net for Sarsfields. Cooney would find the net deep in to injury tie to seal a dramatic win for Sarsfields.

Kevin Cooney proved to be the hero for Sarsfields scoring a late goal to send them through to the knockout stages

St Thomas’ are through to the quarter finals while Sarsfields face Ardrahan meet in the preliminary quarter finals. Portumna are relegated to the Senior B Championship.

Senior B

Group One

Gort 2-20 Ballinderreen 0-11

Despite this 15-point victory Gort finished second in the group as they saw their hopes of an immediate return to Senior A dashed as they finished second in the group. Craughwell and Gort both finished with five points after their opening round draw with both sides enjoying a score difference of +25. However, Craughwell scored more across their three games which meant they gained promotion. Ballinderrreen had a strong wind behind them in the opening half and established a 0-9 to 0-4 half time advantage but they missed six scorable frees in the opening half. Gort failed to score from play in the first 30 minutes but they hit 1-2 at the start of the second half to draw level with Mike Mullns finishing to the back of the net in the 35th minute. With 53 minutes gone Gort led by 1-10 to 0-11 but they knew they needed to score more to be in with a chance of promotion. They struck 10 from there until the end with Richie Cummins finding the net. Gort secured second spot and a place in the preliminary quarter finals but they fell agonisingly short in their search for promotion.

Galway senior hurler Aidan Harte who appeared for Gort in his first game this year

Craughwell 5-22 Kinvara 2-13

Craughwell secured their status in the Senior A hurling Championship as they cut loose to beat Kinvara by 18 points in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon. A Patrick Monaghan goal in the third minute helped Craughwell gain an early lead but Kinvare fought gamely as they trailed by 0-7 to 1-5 midway through the opening half. Niall Healy found the net for Craughwell but Conor Whelan replied with a goal from a 20 metre free and he added two further scores with Craughwell leading by 2-11 to 1-10. Craughwell placed clear daylight between the sides early in the second half when Thomas Monaghan finished to the top corner of the net. Whelan responded with a brace of points but Craughwell hit seven unanswered scores with Niall Healy knocking over four frees to end the game as a contest. Tom O’Donovan managed to score Kinvara’s second goal but Patrick Monaghan replied with a major before Adam Clarke hit his side’s fifth goal as they secured a comfortable win.

Craughwell now face Ahascragh/Fohengah next while Gort play Liam Mellows in the preliminary quarter finals. Kinvara enter the relegation play-offs after losing all three of their group games.

Group Two

Killimordaly 2-16 Athenry 0-23

Despite winning this game Athenry were eliminated from the Championship as they beat group winners Killimordaly. Gary Earls’ Killimordaly side already secured their place in the Senior A Championship next year although they will be disappointed to lose out to a 62nd minute Cian Burke point. Burke finished with 0-14 while Killimordaly’ Brian Burke ended the contest with 2-7. The sides were level six times in the opening 20 minutes before Killimordaly moved ahead when Brian Burke scored a goal after Eanna Ryan’s effort was saved. Killimordaly then struck three of the next four scores but three Cian Burke frees before the break helped Athenry only trail by one at half time, 0-11 to 1-9. Athenry scored five of the opening six points of the second half but they hit 13 second half wides as they failed to press home their advantage. Brian Burke found the net in the 45th minute with the sides level 12 times in total before Cian Burke’s late point helped Athenry to victory.

Ardrahan 0-12 Beagh 0-10

Ardrahan sealed their place in the preliminary quarter finals as they consigned Beagh to the relegation play-offs in a close encounter in Pearse Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Ross Albertini struck three points from midfield for the victors as he helped Ardrahan, who lined out without Johnny Glynn, through to the knockout stages. In a tight and physical opening half two Sean Gardiner points helped Ardrahan move ahead before Joe Gantley opened Beagh’s account. Beagh managed to level the contest as they hit two points without reply but Ardrahan came back with a brace of scores as Iarla Tannian and Ross Albertini both struck points. Beagh hit two out of the final three scores at the end of the half as Adrahan led by a point at the interval. Joe Gantley restored parity early in the second half with Tannian seeing a goal effort saved. The sides were level at 0-8 in the water break but Kevin Keehan received his marching orders after he picked up his second yellow card. Ardrahan moved ahead before Evan Hunt saw a goal effort saved for Beagh as Ardrahan held on for the win.

Former Galway hurler Iarla Tannian pictured here

Killimordaly face Craughwell next with Ardrahan coming up against Sarsfields. Beagh now enter the relegation play-offs where they face Kilnadeema/Leitrim.

Group Three

Ahascragh/Fohenagh 3-15 Mullagh 1-18

In the story of the Championship so far, Ahascragh/Fohenagh secured promotion to the Senior A hurling Championship as they overcame Mullagh in dramatic fashion on Friday evening. After 61 minutes Mullagh led by three points but injury time goals from Padraic Mannion and Niall Glynn helped Ahascragh/Fohenagh claim a dramatic victory and with it a place in the Senior A hurling Championship next year. A John Finnerty goal coupled with Mark Kelly, Cathal Mannion and Padraic Mannion points helped Ahascragh/Fohenagh lead by 1-5 to 0-6 approaching the end of the half. However, Mullagh hit 1-6 without reply at the end of the half with Cathal Dervan grabbing 1-2 during this period as Conor Dervan’s side took a stranglehold on this game. Ahascragh/Fohenagh struck five of the opening six points at the start of the second half but they also hit five wides during this period. Cathal Dervan and Davy Glennon scored points as Mullagh led by five but Ahascragh/Fohenagh replied with two of their own before their late pair of goals secured a thrilling victory.

Galway senior hurler Padraic Mannion who scored a late goal for Ahascragh Fohenagh which sealed their promotion to Senior A hurling for 2021

Pádraig Pearses 3-11 Kilnadeema/Leitrim 0-19

Pádraig Pearses secured their status in the Senior Championship for 2021 as they held on for a nervy one-point win against Kilnadeema/Leitrim. In a keenly contested affair, Pádraig Pearses’ greater goal threat proved decisive on a day when Kilnadeema/Leitrim netminder Evan Dowling made some outstanding saves. The sides were level five times in the first 20 minutes with Kilnadeema/Leitrim also hitting five wides. However, Brian Molloy helped his side move 0-10 to 0-6 ahead before Dean Reilly grabbed Pádraig Pearses’ first goal after being previously denied twice by Dowling with the Kilnadeema/Leitrim goalkeeper also saving an Emmet Ward penalty. The sides shared the opening four points at the start of the second half before the Ballymacward/Gurteen side found the net when Tomas Flannery found net. Cyril Donnellan came off the bench as he decided to come out of retirement for this game and he struck a brace of points for Pádraig Pearses. Dean Reilly struck his side’s third goal but despite five late point for Kilnadeema/Leitrim, it was Pádraig Pearses who came out on top.

Ahascragh/Fohenagh and Mullagh both face in to preliminary quarter finals against Craughwell and Killimordaly respectively while Kilnadeema/Leitrim enter the relegation play-offs where they face Beagh next. Pádraig Pearses avoid a relegation battle as their campaign comes to an end.

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