If reigning All-Ireland champions Portumna keep going like this, then come the business end of the championship, the remaining teams could all well be vying for second place.
As in their 1-29 to 1-19 victory over Castlegar, Portumna were awesome, with Joe Canning (1-8), Damien Hayes (1-3), Kevin Hayes (0-5), Ollie Canning (0-3) and Niall Hayes (0-2) the generals leading the charge up front while Ronan O’Meara also chipped in with four points.
They really are an incredible team, from their work-rate to their movement and when in full flow they are simply unstoppable. What added credence to this victory was that Carnmore – for whatever limitations they may have – could not have played any better.
For their part, Seamus Qualter’s men tallied 2-14 against the holders and that was a total that would have claimed the spoils in many of the championship games last weekend. In all, they gave a very honest account of themselves, especially in the first period when they hit Portumna for two goals.
There was an element of good fortune about the first one as Portumna custodian Joe Keane seemed to lose sight of a Kevin Killilea free which ended up in the net on 16 minutes. While Mike Monaghan’s men were beating themselves over that one, Carnmore slipped in for another moments later.
This time Keane was called upon to deny Aidan Reilly but the rebound fell kindly to the advancing Barry Hanley who whipped his effort home to haul Carnmore back into the contest at 2-3 to 1-7. Suddenly, Portumna had something to think about.
Joe Canning and Hanley subsequently traded points and while Ollie Canning, Niall Hayes and Joe Canning (free) put their side four ahead again, a plucky Carnmore were determined to stay the course and three unanswered points from Hanley and Killilea– free and play – had the margin back to one again.
A Joe Canning free in injury-time – following a foul on the excellent Kevin Hayes – left Portumna 1-12 to 2-7 ahead at the break and while no one imagined that an upset was on the cards, the continuing improvement in Carnmore’s game – having contested the relegation final last year – was duly noted.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway let 11-point slip in a thrilling minor battle
IT would be a tad simplistic to dub what was a hugely entertaining Connacht minor football semi-final as a game of two halves, given that Galway led by 11 points at one stage before Roscommon stormed back to eventually claim a remarkable victory at Tuam Stadium last Saturday.
The reality is a little more nuanced, in that Galway, on their first outing of the year, impressively carved Roscommon’s defence apart with an array of stylish attacking play for a 20-minute spell while playing with the wind at their backs. Outside of that period, though, Galway would just manage to register a solitary point from play.
Roscommon also let four decent goal chances slip through their fingers before they eventually did raise a green flag, drawing two saves while also hitting the post. Critically they hit the last three points of the half to leave a slightly more manageable eight between the sides.
During Galway’s purple patch, pacy corner forwards Eanna Monaghan and Niall Mannion both left their markers chasing shadows, as Galway reeled off nine scores without reply having understandably started quite sluggishly. Goals by Sean Bermingham and Monaghan looked to have Alan Flynn’s side in the box seat, but Roscommon showed remarkable character to claw their way back despite a second half black card that threatened to stall their comeback.
However, when Robert Heneghan’s thunderous 47th minute shot hit the roof of the net while Roscommon were still a body short, the large travelling support rose the decibel levels another notch and their team responded magnificently.
Read full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Difficult draw for champs St Thomas’ in senior title race
COUNTY SHC champions St. Thomas’ will have it all to do to defend their crown after they were drawn in a group containing two heavy-hitters in Cappataggle and Liam Mellows – along with the team that last dumped them out of the senior championship in 2017, Killimordaly.
St. Thomas’ claimed a famous three-in-a-row last year when defeating a resurgent Turloughmore in the county decider and, while they have avoided the 2020 finalists, they have been pitted against last year’s semi-finalists Cappataggle and 2017 winners Liam Mellows.
Both Cappataggle and Liam Mellows have consistently competed at the business end of the championship in recent years, with Cappy pushing Thomas’ all the way in last year’s semi-final, with the champions just edging the contest on a 1-15 to 0-17 scoreline.
While St. Thomas’ also saw off Killimordaly by 1-23 to 2-16 in the quarter-final stage in 2020, they will still be wary of a Killimordaly outfit that dumped them out of the championship at the preliminary quarter-final stage in 2017.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Kevin Lally took over the managerial reins and in the ensuing three years St. Thomas’ cemented their status as one of the county’s top clubs with three senior championship title wins on the bounce.
Over the winter, however, there has been a change in management, with Lally and trainer TJ Ryan stepping down and former hurler Kenneth Burke, who has a growing reputation as a mentor and coach, taking over.
Burke is also a son of former manager John Burke and what he offers is a continuity from two previous managerial set-ups that have been hugely successful.
The 2021 senior and intermediate championships commence on the weekend of September 11 and 12 and, as always, they promise much.
See the full draw and analysis in Tribune Sport this week. The Connacht Tribune is now on sale in shops, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Weld rolls back the years as Coltor proves best in feature
HE may be disposed as the ‘King of Ballybrit’, but Dermot Weld hasn’t lost his touch for training big-race winners at the Galway Summer Festival.
Monday’s feature – the €100,000 Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap – saw a maximum field of 20 runners face the starter and through the stable currently dominant at Galway threw six darts at the bullseye, it was Weld who hit the target with 14/1 shot Coltor.
A second consecutive win for jockey Finian Maguire in the most prestigious event on the racing calendar for amateur riders, however, looked unlikely as one of Willie Mullins’ half-dozen challengers travelled by far the best of the field around the home turn.
The well-fancied Foveros and Aubrey McMahon had just picked off the lone UK challenger, the pace-setting Litterale Ci, leaving the six-year-old poised to give the Mullins yard a fourth win in the last five runnings of the two-mile contest.
Though hard at work on market drifter Coltor, Maguire finally got the penny to drop inside the final 100 yards and Weld’s challenger swooped close to the line to deny Foveros by the three quarters of a length.
It was Weld’s first win in Monday’s feature since the Jane Mangan partnered Midnight Music obliged in 2012, prior to which he had won the race three times in a row between 2007 and 2009. This was his eighth victory in the race as a trainer.
“It’s a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I also won it four times as an amateur jockey, starting as a 15-year-old,” said Weld.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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