St James’ in the last eight after hard fought struggle

St James’ 2-6

Milltown 1-6

Gerard Mulreaney at Tuam Stadium

DESPITE numerous games falling foul of the weather, this Group 1 fixture survived as a much-improved St James’ took the spoils in Sunday’s Senior Football Championship clash at Tuam Stadium.

Met Éireann had issued a status orange rain weather warning for Galway and Mayo, but the pitch held up extremely well, even following the Intermediate preliminary quarter-final between Micheál Breathnach and Williamstown.

Ahead of the game both sides were already guaranteed knock-out football, with three wins apiece, but St James’ knew that a win, or a draw would mean they would be seeded in the quarter-finals. Milltown, however, must now await their fate which depends on the outcomes in the rearranged Group 2 games.

The Jimmies have had an excellent year under new manager Barry Downey, following a nervy relegation battle in 2022. They’ve only lost once in the championship – to reigning champions Maigh Cuilinn – however they’ll be in confident mood heading into the quarter-finals.

Milltown are a doggedly determined outfit – and never know when they’re beaten – as proved when they came back to beat Annaghdown last time out, and despite losing this game, they only went down by the kick of a ball.

Aaron Connolly opened the scoring for St James’ in the first minute with a superb point, coming in from the endline and popping the ball over the bar. Then county star Paul Conroy started a move with Jack Nolan, he turned inside and beat two Milltown defenders and played the ball back to Conroy who was fouled. Conroy picked himself up and slotted over the free.

Milltown, playing with the aid of a pretty strong breeze blowing into the town end in the first half, scored their first point in the fifth minute with a free from Mark Hehir.

They followed that up with a really well worked score from Eoin Mannion. Mike McWalters and Mannion kept probing down the left-hand side, before Mannion eventually turned inside his man to level the scores.

A neat move in the ninth minute involving Lee Vahey and Liam Melody ended up with Melody hauled down by Jack Kirrane, and referee Austin O’Connell had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Pictured: St James’ Jack Nolan on the attack against Milltown’s Ciarán Blake during Sunday’s Senior Football Championship encounter at Tuam Stadium. Photo: David Cunniffe.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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