By Ivan Smyth
After another entertaining weekend of action in the Galway Senior hurling Championship, Killimordaly, Ahascragh/Fohenagh, Liam Mellows and Sarsfields seeing their Championship campaigns come to a halt while St. Thomas’, Cappataggle, Loughrea and Turloughmore are now within 60 minutes away from a county final.
After some top quality action at the weekend, St Thomas’ will play Cappataggle in the semi-finals while Turloughmore come up against Loughrea.
St. Thomas’ 1-23 Killimordaly 2-16
St Thomas’ remain on course for a third county title for a row as they beat a game Killimordaly side. The reigning champions controlled proceedings throughout as they withstood a late Killimordaly fightback to book their spot in the semi-final. Killimordaly were the last side to beat St. Thomas’ in the Championship back in 2017 and they struck the opening point of this encounter. Last year’s All-Ireland club semi-finalists responded in emphatic fashion with five unanswered points.
To their credit Killimordaly battled away as they cut their arrears to two points but Conor Cooney’s accuracy from placed balls alongside James Regan, Eanna Burke and David Burke points helped St Thomas’ lead by 0-13 to 0-6 at half time. Killimordaly had the breeze advantage in the second half and they hit four points without reply. However, their hopes were dealt a blow when David and Eanna Burke combined to play Oisin Flannery through on goal and he duly dispatched the sliotar to the net.
This moved St Thomas’ eight points in front, and they were able to maintain that lead until midfielder David Concannon struck back with a goal for Killimordaly. Brian Burke and Eanna Ryan hit further points for Killimordaly but the defending county champions replied with two scores of their own. Jack Fitzpatrick struck an excellent goal for Killimordaly but it was not enough as St Thomas’ progress to the final four.
Cappataggle 0-20 Ahascragh/Fohenagh 0-13
First time quarter finalists Ahascragh/Fohenagh saw their fairytale run in this year’s Championship came to an end as they were beaten by rivals Cappataggle. Tony Nevin’s Cappataggle side qualified for their fourth successive semi-final as they outscored their opponent’s by 0-12 to 0-2 in the second half. Ahascragh/Fohenagh started this game the sharper of the two as they moved four points to one ahead before Cappataggle hit three scores in a row to regain the lead.
However, Ahascragh/Fohenagh took control with Padraic Mannion flashing an effort over the bar before John Finnerty, Mark Kelly and Ronan Kelly all added scores. A fine Luke Cosgrove point highlighted Ahascragh/Fohenagh’s confidence and a Mark Kelly free before the break helped the underdogs lead by three at half time, 0-11 to 0-8.
A Mark Kelly free moved Ahascragh/Fohenagh four points clear but Cappataggle took control as they hit 10 unanswered points. Alan Dolan punished any ill-discipline in the Ahascragh/Fohenagh rearguard as he finished with 0-10 while Ja Mannion proved a menace up front as he struck three points from play during this spell. The Cappataggle defence kept Ahascragh/Fohenagh scorless from play in the second half with Mark Kelly pointing a free as Noel Warde and Sean Bleahene seeing late goal chances go abegging. Cappataggle’s second half display will fill them with confidence as they seek to reach their first county final.
Loughrea 0-22 Liam Mellows 1-13
For the first time since 2016, Loughrea have reached the county semi-finals as they beat a Liam Mellows side who have competed in the last three county finals. Loughrea started strong as they struck four of the first five points in this game. However, Liam Mellows came roaring back in to the contest as Aenghus Callanan won a turnover deep in Loughrea territory before he fed Tadhg Haran who dispatched the sliotar to the net.
Loughrea cancelled out the goal with three points in a row as Neil Keary grabbed a brace of scores. Tadhg Haran’s frees helped keep Liam Mellows in this game while Conor Hynes struck two fine points. However, Loughrea’s lively attacking unit caused their opponent’s problems as Martin McManus hit four points from play in the opening half with Neil Keary and Dylan Shaughnessy also impressing up front.
Throughout this contest Loughrea displayed some excellent long-range shooting and they continued to pile on the scores. Despite a Tadhg Haran free Loughrea hit four of the next five scores at the start of the second half to move further clear. Mellows relied heavily on Haran’s placed balls but a fine Joe Mooney score helped Loughrea lead by 0-18 to 1-9 at the final water break. The 2017 county champions positioned John Lee on the edge of the square as they tried to find another goal to keep their Championship dreams alive but Loughrea dealt with the aerial threat as two late Caimin Killeen points helped Loughrea progress.
Turloughmore 2-25 Sarsfields 2-19
In the final game of the weekend Turloughmore reached the semi-finals for the second year running as they overcame Sarsfields in a keenly contested encounter. Sarsfields had not conceded a goal in their four Championship encounters this year but their defence was breached in the fifth minute when Conor Walsh broke through and rifled the sliotar past Ciaran Dolan in the Sarsfields goal. This helped Turloughmore lead by 1-1 to 0-2.
Turloughmore fired over two further points but Sarsfields worked their way back in to the game and they hit four unanswered points. However, last year’s county semi-finalists responded in emphatic style with Conor Walsh turning provider as he played Sean Loftus through on goal with the midfielder finishing to the net. In a first half where the teams scored 28 scores, both forward lines were on top but Turloughmore’s two goals helped them enjoy a 2-11 to 0-15 half time advantage.
It was Turloughmore who started the second half quicker as they struck four quick fire points to establish their biggest lead of the game. Sarsfields needed to respond and when they earned a penalty in the 36th minute, Kevin Cooney stepped up to rifle the sliotar to the net. Turloughmore hit three of the next four scores and they continued to pile the pressure as Sarsfields began to tire. Francis Forde and Joe Hession’s Turloughmore side moved eight points clear before their opponent’s hit back with an Ian Fox goal as the game headed in to injury time. It was too little too late as Turloughmore kept their composure to earn a semi-final spot once more.