Reigning champions St Thomas will meet Turloughmore in the semi-finals of the Galway SHC, while last year’s runners-up Liam Mellows will take on Cappataggle following the quarter-finals at the weekend.
After a week dominated by controversies off the field, there was a welcome return to action with big crowds turning out in Athenry and Ballinasloe for the quarter-finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Galway captain David Burke and his county teammate Conor Cooney provided the necessary leadership as St Thomas kept their hopes of retaining the crown alive when they held off the brave challenge of Tommy Larkins by 0-16 to 0-14 in Athenry on Saturday.
Tommy Larkins, bidding to reach the last four for the first time since 1982, looked good for an upset when they led by 0-13 to 0-10 with nine minutes remaining.
County player Jason Flynn led the Tommy Larkins challenge with 0-10, nine of them frees, but they lacked the firepower to finish the job.
St Thomas never panicked and with Burke and Cooney leading the way, and last year’s All-Ireland minor winner Oisin Flannery also prominent, they outscored Tommy Larkins by 0-6 to 0-1 in the closing stages to advance.
They will meet a Turloughmore side they drew 0-8 each apiece in the group stages recently. Turloughmore will be hoping to reach their first final since 1990 and with All-Star full-back Daithi Burke, who is expected to feature for Corofin in the Galway football final next weekend, lining out at midfield, they looked impressive when beating Craughwell by 0-21 to 0-14.
Craughwell were dependent on the accuracy of former Galway star Niall Healy from frees and their hopes suffered a big blow when he limped off early in the second-half as Turloughmore, who led by 0-11 to 0-9 at the break, pushed on.
Conor Walsh, Sean Loftus, Jamie Holland, Sean Linnane and Gary Burke were to the fore as Turloughmore, whose management team includes outgoing selector and potential manager Francis Forde.
A Liam Mellows side with potential Clare manager Louis Mulqueen in charge ran out impressive 2-16 to 0-6 winners over former double All-Ireland champions Sarsfields.
Mellows, runners-up last year and winners two seasons ago, led by 0-7 to 0-2 at the break and pushed on with Tadhg Haran bringing his tally from placed balls to 0-11 and goals from Conor Kavanagh and Ronan Elwood seeing them cruise to victory against a Sarsfields side missing county star Joseph Cooney who has moved back to Australia.
They will meet Cappataggle for the third year in a row in the semi-finals and with the margin of victory just a point in each of the previous clashes, another close encounter is expected.
Cappataggle have never reached the final but with county goalkeeper James Skehill and former Galway defender and mentor in Micheal Donoghue’s management team Damien Joyce on board, they eased past Loughrea by 2-18 to 0-14 yesterday with Michael Garvey and Donal Mannion getting the goals, after leading by 1-7 to 0-7 at the interval.