Liam Mellows 1-16
LIAM Mellows booked their place in the knockout stages of the 2017 senior hurling championship when submitting a workmanlike display to see off Cappataggle – group leaders until last weekend – in an entertaining contest in Loughrea on Saturday evening.
Although the quality may have been questionable at times, the see-saw nature of this game meant the outcome hung in the balance until substitute Conor Elwood pounced for the decisive goal on 52 minutes – a score which pushed Liam Mellows into a 1-16 to 0-13 lead.
Aonghus Callanan was to the fore in setting up Elwood for the clincher but Cappataggle may feel hard done by as a couple of rash challenges by Elwood midway through the half could easily have seen him walk the line.
As it was, referee Joe Larkin, who did flash the match-winner with a yellow card early in the second half, gave him the benefit of the doubt and took a lenient view of the second offence, much to the relief of the Mellows following.
In truth, Liam Mellows were the better side over the hour and although Cappataggle endeavoured to open up the game on numerous occasions with cross-field ball, Louis Mulqueen’s charges read the danger and defended diligently.
To the fore in this respect was Michael Conneely. He was simply brilliant, securing a plethora of puck-outs, winning a brace of frees and, generally, he was a commanding figure in most facets of their play.
Alongside him, David Collins also hurled exceptionally well, scoring three points from centre-half back and offering further leadership in an area of the field where Cappataggle, led by the towering Ronan Garvey, looked to stretch them.
Indeed, with centre-half back Paul Claffey also showing well for Cappy in the opening period, it ensured Tony Nevin’s men were very competitive in the opening exchanges and at the change of ends the sides were tied at 0-10 apiece.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.