LIAM Mellows have been riding high on the crest of a wave since their county final success last December and at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday they will be looking to maintain this momentum by surfing their way to paradise in the guise of an All-Ireland final appearance on St. Patrick’s Day.
However, aside from the occasion, there is also the little matter of the reigning All-Ireland club champions Cuala to contend with first and this in itself makes it a tall order given Cuala have been pretty much rampant since winning the Tommy Moore Cup at headquarters with victory over Ballyea of Clare in Spring 2017.
By this stage, Cuala already boasted of household names such as Oisin Gough, David Treacy, the Schutte brothers – Paul and Mark – and Darragh O’Connell while, since then, the status of dual star Con O’Callaghan has rocketed into the stratosphere and beyond.
Leaving aside his exploits with Dublin’s U-21 and senior footballers – both of which he won All-Ireland medals with in 2017 – O’Callaghan has also been in splendid form for his hurling club and is their top scorer from play with 7-13 to date. Some would say he is unmarkable.
In contrast, Liam Mellows’ top scorer from play is Aonghus Callanan with 5-5 and four of those goals came against Loughrea in the second round of the Galway senior hurling championship and Mellows will need another display of ‘Loughrea’ proportions from the former Galway sharpshooter if they are to be successful against Cuala.
It is not that Mellows don’t have a fine spread of scorers from play either. Tadgh Haran and Ronan Elwood have 1-13 apiece while Conor Kavanagh and Adrian Morrissey – top scorer with 0-62 (0-50 placed balls) – have tallied 2-7 and 0-12 respectively from open play. It’s a forward unit – as they showed in their 3-12 to 1-15 win over Gort in the county final – that can post match-winning tallies.
So too though can Cuala and in O’Callaghan they have an exponent who Mellows boss Louis Mulqueen believes could be just as good as Joe Canning was at that age. It is a fair compliment to pay and one surely to generate debate.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.