A Tommy Larkins side who won their only Galway SHC title back in 1971 will bid to dethrone the reigning champions St Thomas’ in the quarter-finals of this year’s title race.
The Woodford-Ballinakill side booked their place in the last eight yesterday with a win over former All-Ireland champions Athenry in the preliminary quarter-finals.
Last year’s runners-up Liam Mellows will face Sarsfields, Loughrea will take on neighbours Cappataggle and Turloughmore will face Craughwell in the other quarter-finals.
A goal from Ronan Murphy and a string of points from county player Jason Flynn paved the way as Tommy Larkins beat Athenry on a scoreline of 1-19 to 0-15.
They led by 0-12 to 0-9 at the break, but Murphy’s goal proved decisive as they booked their place in the last eight.
Liam Mellows, hoping to reach their third county final in a row for the first time having won it two years ago, advanced after they defeated reigning All-Ireland intermediate champions Oranmore/Maree by 1-21 to 1-14.
Mellows, managed by Clare’s Louis Mulqueen — a possible contender to take over from Micheál Donoghue as Galway manager — led by 1-10 to 0-7 at the break with an early goal from Conor Kavanagh sending the city side on their way.
The accuracy of Tadhg Haran, who scored 0-13, was a key factor in Mellows’ success, with county player Niall Burke leading the challenge for a side managed by former Galway star Gerry McInerney.
A goal from a penalty by Burke gave Oranmore/Maree hope, but Haran’s accuracy was crucial as Mulqueen’s side advanced.
Craughwell, finalists four years ago but without a crown since 1931, booked a quarter-final spot against a Turloughmore side seeking their first title since 1985 when they edged out Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry by 1-17 to 0-16.
Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry, with Shane Moloney prominent, raced into a 0-7 to 0-2 lead, but a goal from Adrian Prendergast was the key score of the game and helped Craughwell lead by 1-6 to 0-8 at the break.
The sides continued to exchange points, but that goal kept a gap between them and former county star Niall Healy, who himself shot an impressive 0-10, steered Craughwell to victory.
Cappataggle came with a late flurry of points to pip Clarinbridge in the other preliminary quarter-final by a score of 0-22 to 1-16.
Cappataggle, semi-finalists last year, led by 0-12 to 0-7 at the break, but a goal from Mark Kennedy brought Clarinbridge right back into contention.
They were level going into injury time, but with extra time looming, Cappataggle pulled away, with Daniel Nevin putting them ahead and then two points from Alan Dolan saw them through.
Meanwhile, a late Joe Canning point secured a 0-21 to 2-14 win for the four-time All-Ireland champions Portumna in a Senior A relegation battle with Gort (the senior grade in Galway is divided into two groups, with the bottom team in Senior B relegated to intermediate).
Canning shot 0-12, 11 of them from frees, to preserve Portumna’s status in the top section, while Joe’s older brother Ollie, playing in his 26th senior campaign for the club, landed two points from play.