Liam Mellows and Turloughmore hurlers no strangers to each other in U-21 final

Turloughmore’s Vincent Doyle and Liam Mellows’ Michael Conneely who will be renewing rivalry in Saturday’s County U-21 A hurling final at Pearse Stadium.
Turloughmore’s Vincent Doyle and Liam Mellows’ Michael Conneely who will be renewing rivalry in Saturday’s County U-21 A hurling final at Pearse Stadium.

THE Galway U-21 ‘A’ county championship hurling final between Turloughmore and Liam Mellows takes place at Pearse Stadium on Saturday (2:30pm) and if it is anything like the meeting of these teams in the minor decider three years ago, it should be an explosive contest.

In the 2013 minor showdown, Turloughmore and Liam Mellows finished all square following a riveting contest at the Salthill venue – Jamie Holland hitting the equaliser from distance to deny Liam Mellows just their third minor ‘A’ title.

In the replay, Turloughmore took full advantage of their reprieve to storm to a 1-18 to 1-10 win, Conor Shaughnessy providing both the inspiration and the scores to land his club their eighth minor title – their first since 1981.

Unfortunately, Shaughnessy is suspended for this U-21 decider after his late dismissal against Ardrahan in the semi-final and he represents a major loss for Turloughmore given his scoring prowess and the influence he tends to have on games.

Against the background of those minor epics in 2013 though, Turloughmore and Liam Mellows – backboned by the vast majority of the same players – will be renewing rivalry in an intriguing showdown.

Earlier in the year, both stormed through to top their respective groups. For Turloughmore, this included victories over Kilconieron (4-17 to 0-10), defending champions Kilnadeema/Leitrim (1-15 to 1-14) and Oranmore/Maree (4-17 to 1-6) while Mellows enjoyed wins over Cappataggle (2-13 to 0-11) and Athenry (3-15 to 0-14).

In the semi-finals, Liam Mellows had to withstand a late Loughrea comeback to advance to the decider on a scoreline of 2-21 to 4-14 – Adrian Morrissey and Enda Fallon netting the victors’ goals – and Turloughmore accounted for Ardrahan (2-21 to 1-8), with Shaughnessy (0-7, 0-6 frees), Barry Callanan (2-0) and Sean Linnane (0-5) their scorers-in-chief.

Not surprisingly, each side has a significant number of players who have been blooded by their senior hurling set-ups. For Liam Mellows, Cathal Reilly, Michael Conneely, Jack Hastings, Ronan Elwood, Stephen Barrett, Enda Fallon, Adrian Morrissey, Kevin Lee and Eoghan Croker have all seen top flight action.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.