Opening hurling weekend throws up surprise results

Sarsfields' captain Kevin Cooney is challenged by Castlegar's Sean Neary in action from the Brooks Galway Senior Club Hurling Championship game at Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Sarsfields' captain Kevin Cooney is challenged by Castlegar's Sean Neary in action from the Brooks Galway Senior Club Hurling Championship game at Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Two of the leading challengers in the race for the 2023 Galway senior hurling championship suffered unexpected defeats last weekend as Castlegar and Killimordaly recorded wins over Sarsfields and Clarinbridge respectively.

Clarinbridge looked to have rescued a draw late on in Duggan Park on Saturday as Evan Niland and Mikey Daly hit points in stoppage time to level a compelling encounter, but there was still time for Luke Lynskey to crash in a winning goal for Killimordaly, who now top Group 1 after a 2-15 to 0-19 victory.

Oranmore-Maree did their chances of progression no harm with a 2-21 to 0-17 win over Tommy Larkins, with Rory Burke netting both goals for the winners. Larkins can still save themselves from the relegation battle, but will need a big win over Clarinbridge on the last day.

Friday evening’s game ended with the first stalemate of the competition as Gort dramatically struck late to deny Turloughmore their second win. Paddy Cummins’ goal in injury time left the minimum between the sides, and Aidan Helebert’s last-gasp point levelled a low-scoring game that was played in terrible conditions.

St. Thomas’ ominously put up a huge score of 3-31 in seeing off the challenge of Portumna as Damien McGlynn’s early strike set the tone for a one-sided clash. Eanna Burke also found the net twice in a second half in which Portumna only managed two Joe Canning points playing into the wind.

Loughrea were another team to make short work of what looked to be a tricky assignment in Group 3 as a dominant second quarter laid the platform for a comfortable 1-24 to 0-13 win over Cappataggle, while Kilconieron won a close encounter with Maigh Chuilinn to boost their hopes of a place in the knockout stages.

There were fireworks aplenty in Group 4 on Sunday afternoon as both games produced thrilling finishes.

A large crowd gathered for what were Kenny Park’s last fixtures before major pitch drainage works get underway that will see the venue ruled out of action until early 2024.

Ardrahan took on Craughwell in the first game and were on course for victory despite having a man sent off early in the second half before Tom Monaghan dragged Craughwell level. The sides traded scores again before Monaghan’s late effort drifted narrowly wide with the sides deadlocked at 0-22 to 1-19.

A Cillian Callaghan goal gave Castlegar the impetus to hold off a late Sarsfields rally and claim a morale-boosting win by 1-16 to 1-14. Ger Farragher was deadly accurate from placed balls for the winners, but when Kevin Cooney drilled a late free to the net and was then presented with a similar opportunity to win the game, Castlegar needed goalkeeper Liam O’Reilly to pull off a dramatic save.

In senior B Group 1 Liam Mellows got their campaign back oh track with a 0-20 to 0-17 victory over Athenry in Pearse Stadium, while Mullagh made it two wins from two with a 1-17 to 0-18 win over Ahascragh-Fohenagh. Kilnadeema-Leitrim took control of Group 2 with a dominant 3-21 to 0-17 win over Killimor, while Beagh once again underlined their ability to grind out a win when required as they saw off Padraig Pearses by 0-21 to 1-14.

 

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