Louis Mulqueen’s possible candidacy for the Galway manager’s job stepped up another notch yesterday, when he guided city side Liam Mellows to their third county senior final in a row.
Two years ago, the Clare native led Liam Mellows — third in the roll of honour, with nine titles — to their first Galway crown since 1970 and now they have reached three deciders in a row, for the first time in their history.
They will take on St Thomas, in a repeat of last year’s final, having edged out Cappataggle in the semi-finals, for the third year in a row, with Tadhg Haran leading the way, with 0-13, which included a sideline and three from play, at Kenny Park, in Athenry.
Cappataggle, bidding to reach their first senior final, enjoyed a brilliant start and led 1-4 to 0-1 after just seven minutes, helped by an own goal from Mellows corner-back Stephen Barrett, who carried a shot from James Egan back over his own line as he tried to control it.
Ja Mannion, Alan Dolan, and Dan Nevin landed good points, but Mellows did not panic and three points in a row — two of them frees from Haran and one from Conor Elwood — cut the gap to 1-4 to 0-4 after 11 minutes.
The sides exchanged points, before Aonghus Callanan set up Conor Elwood for a 13th-minute goal and another free from Haran tied the sides at 1-6 apiece, at the end of the opening quarter.
They twice exchanged points, before Mellows pulled clear with another brace of points from Haran and one from Ronan Elwood.
But Cappataggle finished the half strongly, with Alan Dolan scoring two frees to cut the gap, 1-11 to 1-10, at the break. Mellows stepped up a few gears after the restart, with Conor Elwood shooting three points to open up a 1-16 to 1-13 lead after 41 minutes, but Alan Dolan led the Cappataggle revival to draw level five minutes later.
The sides twice exchanged points, before Haran edged the city side back in front and they all but sealed their passage to the final when Callanan again set up Kavanagh, for his second goal.
T Haran (0-13, 9 frees, 1 sideline); C Kavanagh (2-0); C Elwood (0-4); J Forde (0-2); R Elwood, A Morrissey (0-1 each).
A Dolan (0-12, 10 frees); J Mannion, D Mannion (0-3 each); D Nevin, M Garvey, N Collins (0-1 each); S Barrett (1-0, own goal).
K Walsh; M Hughes, D Collins, S Barrett; C Reilly, S Morrissey, L O’Donovan; J Forde, A Morrissey; T Haran, C Elwood, J Hastings; C Kavanagh, R Elwood, A Callanan.
C Hynes for C Elwood (64).
J Skehill; P Egan, J Garvey, K Kelly; D Cronin, D Joyce, D Dolan; D Nevin, D Reddan; E Garvey, J Egan, A Dolan; D Mannion, M Garvey, J Mannion.
A Loughnane for Reddan (half-time), N Collins for J Egan (39), O Finn for E Garvey (58), S Creaven for M Garvey (60).
Liam Gordon (Killimor).