REIGNING senior hurling champions Liam Mellows showed no signs of having a post county final or, indeed, All-Ireland series hangover when they dispatched of recent bogey team Craughwell with some aplomb at Kenny Park, Athenry last Sunday.
More often than not, county champions, particularly when coming off the back of a fairytale season, can find the outset of a new campaign an anti-climax but Liam Mellows showed none of these ill effects when outscoring Craughwell by eight points to two in the second half.
Another sub-plot to this SHC opener was that Craughwell have had the Indian sign over Liam Mellows in recent championships – no more so than last year when the only defeat Mellows suffered was to Craughwell in the group stages.
In any event, Liam Mellows played like a team anxious to rectify their recent poor record against Tom Helebert’s charges, with Adrian Morrissey very much to the fore in registering 13 points, 12 from frees, in the 0-17 to 0-11 victory. Michael Conneely and Sean Morrissey were equally as impressive at the back.
While this result puts Liam Mellows on the front foot in their title defence, 2017 semi-finalists Craughwell now have a big game against Kilnadeema/Leitrim in the second round the weekend after next.
Kilnadeema/Leitrim also lost their championship opener to St. Thomas’ on a 1-17 to 0-14 scoreline and a loss for them or Craughwell in the next game will leave the defeated side with much to ponder over the Summer months and ahead of their belated return to championship action in August or September.
In the other Group 1 Senior ‘A’ game, Castlegar and Tommy Larkins drew and this in itself is significant as both will feel they can cause an upset in the next round. Castlegar face age-old rivals Mellows in a derby game to be televised live on TG4 while Tommy Larkins will fancy their chances against a St. Thomas’ outfit they have a decent record against.
In the other Senior ‘A’ group, Loughrea, after a disappointing championship last year, secured a 0-15 to 0-12 win over Mullagh. Elsewhere, last year’s finalists Gort had a fine victory over 2017 semi-finalists Cappataggle with Richie Cummins and Aidan Helebert both shooting four points from play apiece in that tie.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.