Cooke and Kelly land late points as champs go through

Maigh Cuilinn 0-13

Salthill/Knocknacarra 1-9

Gerard Mulreaney at Pearse Stadium

THERE was a dramatic end to this Galway Senior Football Championship quarter-final as 2022 winners Maigh Cuilinn edged out runners-up that day, Salthill-Knocknacarra, thanks to a Paul Kelly point at the end of a pulsating game at Pearse Stadium.

The question many people were asking ahead of this game was could Salthill-Knocknacarra dethrone the champions, and extract some revenge after losing the 2022 county final in heart-breaking fashion. In the end the answer was no, and Maigh Cuilinn put further salt in their wounds by scoring the winning point late in added time.

This game was arguably the tie of the round, though many people in North Galway might differ, with Corofin taking on Tuam Stars at Tuam Stadium – a repeat of the Division One league final earlier this year which Corofin won in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Despite the narrow margin, Maigh Cuilinn supporters will have been in a party mood heading back out the N59 on Sunday evening dreaming of back-to-back county titles. However, if they are to do that, they’ll have to do it the hard way after they were drawn to face 2021 county champions Mountbellew-Moylough in the semi-finals.

There was a cagey enough start to this game, which was played in glorious autumn sunshine, with both sides testing each other out early on. A couple of Dessie Conneely frees gave Maigh Cuilinn the early advantage, before Salthill-Knocknacarra opened up their account in the eighth minute – Donal Hunt picked the ball up in his own half and played in Matthew Thompson to score.

Quality scores from Peter Cooke and Robert Finnerty followed, before Cathal Sweeney levelled the scores after 11 minutes when he drove straight through the middle and popped over his first point. Salthill-Knocknacarra then retook the lead from another Finnerty free.

A cross-field ball from John Maher found Thompson, and he out-muscled Neil Mulcahy to score. That was followed by a point from Paddy Kitt after some excellent work by Gearóid Armstrong and Evan Murphy.

Pictured: Maigh Cuilinn’s David Wynne breaking out of defence against Robert Finnerty of Salthill/Knocknacarra during Saturday’s Senior Football quarter-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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