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Corofin and Mountbellew/Moylough favourites to reach county decider

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Greg Higgins has returned to the fray for Corofin, while Derek Savage looks as fit as ever for Cortoon Shamrocks.

Now that the shadow-boxing of the earlier rounds is out of the way, it’s down to the serious business for the four best teams in the county who battle it out this Sunday for a place in the Galway senior Gaelic football championship final.

Reigning Galway, Connacht and All-Ireland champions, Corofin remain the team to beat as they look for a historic three-in-a-row of titles, a feat that was considered almost a certainty at the beginning of the season. It’s not so clear-cut any longer . . . Corofin’s form has dipped sufficiently in this campaign, and enough chinks in their armour have been exposed, to give the remaining three pretenders to the crown some hope going into semi-final Sunday.

In the first of a double-header at Tuam Stadium (2pm), Cortoon Shamrocks, which has a nice blend of experienced heads and youthful enthusiasm, will look to dethrone the champions at the penultimate stage. Corofin last came a cropper at the semi-final in 2012 so you could argue that now is the opportune time to meet them. But then again they hockeyed Milltown in the semi-final last year, and they have the quality to cut loose again.

A North Galway derby, Cortoon v Corofin should get the crowd to Tuam early before the mouth-watering clash between Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough (4.15pm) in the other semi-final.

This one should be intriguing, not least because the manager of the city men is Mountbellew’s Val Daly, whose two sons, Michael and John Daly, will be lining out for Mountbellew/Moylough. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Daly household this week!

Sunday

Corofin v Cortoon Shamrocks (Tuam Stadium, 2.30pm)

The Corofin statistics in the county championship since they were last defeated are savage. They are unbeaten in 14 games since the last occasion they suffered county championship defeat, which was against Tuam in the semi-final of 2012. They have won 13 of those games, and drawn once against the Stars before winning the replay earlier this month.

What a record. They are also unbeaten in the league this season (seven wins); and were unbeaten in last year’s league, too.

Cortoon are not without hope, though. Corofin are more vulnerable this year compared with the previous two – they are a long-time on the road, and have lost that invincible look.

They are scoring less, too, managing just 1-10 on average per match compared with 2-15 on average per game in the local championship in 2013, and nearly 3-13 on average per game in their march to county glory in 2014. Corofin are conceding more compared to those two years. They have conceded 4-34 in the campaign to date, compared with 3-36 in the five games in the 2013 championship and just 1-31over five games played in 2014.

Manager Stephen Rochford hasn’t had a full squad to pick from but is close to full strength now. Greg Higgins returned to the fray against Tuam, and while he aggravated a niggly injury, the midfielder is pushing for a starting berth, as is Ian Burke and Daithi Burke, who both came off the bench the last day. Conor Cunningham is back from US and in contention to start and long-term absentee Joe Canney (groin) is on the mend.

CITY TRIBUNE

O’Keeffe says season’s goal of winning promotion remains very much in United’s sights

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Conor O’Keeffe in action against Cobh Ramblers FC earlier this season. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United full-back Conor O’Keeffe insists there is no talk in the camp about the upcoming promotion play-offs, with all the focus each week being on the next game up for the side rather than the battle to join champions-elect Shelbourne in the top-flight next season.

A scoreless draw at home to Treaty United last weekend, coupled with a 2-0 win for Shelbourne away to Cork City, means the Dublin side has moved 10 points ahead of United at the top of the table with five games remaining.

Having lost just once all season – a defeat which was inflicted by United – the Tolka Park side are unlikely to let that 10-point lead slip, meaning that United’s hopes of promotion will rest with the play-offs.

O’Keeffe, who turns 28 on Sunday, says that promotion remains the goal of the squad, and that is the focus, not on the route that will be needed to secure that.

“We are taking things one game at a time, if you look beyond that, you forget to do that’s in front of you, so we are not even looking at the playoffs, you have to show up for each game.

“You have to take it just game by game, if you look farther ahead, you get a little carried away and you lose focus, and you just have to keep going.

“We just need to finish as high up the table as we can, anything can happen, it is a funny game at times, football, we have just got to believe – if you don’t believe there is no point, our goal is to get promoted and we still believe we can do that,” O’Keeffe says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Favourites all advance with ease in the FAI Junior Cup

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Athenry's Seán O'Callaghan heads in his side's second goal despite the best efforts of Paddy Gannon and Shane Trill. Photo: Kennedy-Beirne/Eirefoto.

Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty

It might only have been the preliminary round of the FAI Junior Cup, but for certain teams with ambitions, it was hopefully the start of a long trail towards ultimate success, and the four fancied sides all advanced from their games with various degrees of comfort last weekend.

In the only all Premier Division clash, James Ryan secured the match winner as West United saw off St Bernard’s 1-0 in South Park. It was Ryan again who went closest to a second, but his effort on this occasion was thwarted by the woodwork. The victory sets them up for a First Round contest against Tuam Celtic on the last weekend of the month.

Hibernians were 3-2 winners over Dynamo Blues in Bohermore as Shane Hulgraine, Nathan Ward (striker) and an own goal were enough to see off the Tuam side for whom Alex Schmitt scored twice.

Scoreless at the break, Colga did all the damage against Bohemians on the resumption as they ran out 4-0 winners with Neil Greaney (3) and Colm McDonagh sharing the goals – Colga and Hibernians meet in the next round.

As to be expected Athenry were the most comfortable winners of the day as they defeated Renmore 6-0 with three goals coming in each-half. New central defender, Sean O’Callaghan, scored his first goals for the club as he notched a brace, while Adam Duffy, Declan Cullen, Colm O’Donovan and Garvan Broughall were also all on the mark as they set up a neighbourly contest with Corofin United.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway United nearly there but scope for improvement

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Galway United's Joe Gorman on the ball against Kieran Hanlon of Treaty United FC during Friday night's First Division tie at Eamonn Deacy Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway United 0

Treaty United 0

A contest between two evenly-matched teams finished in stalemate on Friday night, nudging both sides closer to the play-offs, but leaving neither in doubt that major improvement is needed if they are to escape the doldrums of the First Division.

United shaded things in the first-half, with the visitors being the marginally better side for much of the second until they were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of former United man, Marc Ludden.

Already providing a stubborn and frustrating resistance to their hosts, Treaty dug in even further following that 73rd minute red card, and with United struggling to find their mojo of late, the game petered out into that predictable scoreless draw.

The league takes another break this weekend with the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup taking centre stage, giving the United camp some additional time to find that spark that has been missing for the past three games following that stirring 3-1 win over Shelbourne in mid-August.

With free-scoring UCD up next for United, that additional time needs to be well spent for, while United are almost assured of the play-offs, they have serious work to do to if they are to take confidence and momentum into those play-offs, and the visit of the Students to the Dyke Road on Friday week will really test the home side.

John Caulfield made two changes to the team which beat Cabinteely the previous week, with Luke Dennison coming in for the suspended Conor Kearns in goals, while Stephen Walsh replaced Alex Murphy at left-back.

The game was preceded by a thunderous minute’s applause from both home and away fans for the late Sam Oji, a man who graced the jersey of both Galway United and of Treaty United’s predecessor, Limerick FC, who died suddenly last month from cancer at the age of just 35.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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