Saturday 24 August 2019

Galway to seek fourth AIG Senior Cup title at Westport

Wins over County Sligo and Portumna pave way for Connacht success

On song: Ronan Mullarney took wins in both the semi-final and final. Photo:
On song: Ronan Mullarney took wins in both the semi-final and final. Photo:

Brian Keogh

Galway will be bidding for their fourth AIG Senior Cup triumph since 2006 after they cruised to a 4-1 win over Portumna in the Connacht Finals at beautiful Westport.

The westerners won for the first time at Enniscrone in 2006 and, after wins in Tullamore in 2009 and at Carton House two years ago, they will be keen to make a winning return to Westport for the AIG Cups and Shields All Ireland Finals from September 20-22.

They took a giant step to another Connacht pennant with a 4-1 win over County Sligo in the semi-finals, with Eddie McCormack, Ronan Mullarney and Liam Nolan snatching wins.

They were equally convincing in the final against Portumna, who defeated Athenry 3.5-1.5 in their semi-final, with Nolan and Mullarney winning at the top of the order and Stephen Brady a 5&3 winner over Adrian Hogan at number five.

There was no luck for Galway in the AIG Barton Shield, however, as Co Sligo beat them on the first tie hole.

Ruairi O'Connor and Thomas Finnegan beat Galway's Joe Lyons and Liam Nolan by three holes, and while Mullarney and McCormack forced extra holes against TJ Ford and Daniel Ford, the men from Rosses Point won on the 19th.

In the AIG Jimmy Bruen Shield Final, Roscommon beat hosts Westport 4-1 in the semi-finals before going on to beat Athenry by the same margin in the final.

The Roscommon team featured Kevin Connaughton (16), son of 2015 GUI President Michael, and he proved key, pairing up with John Walker to clinch a crucial point.

John is the father of Boys international Simon, who will represent Connacht in the Interpros this month.

Castlebar won the AIG Pierce Purcell Shield pennant at Westport, beating Portumna 3.5-1.5 thanks to wins for Colin Dawson and John Kelly, Eugene Caulfield and Val Jennings and David Molloy and Declan Prendergast.

Castlebar beat Ballina 4-1 in their semi-final as Portumn a overcame Connemara Isles by the same margin.

Castlebar won the Jimmy Bruen in 2017, but they have yet to win the Pierce Purcell.

Westport did not go away empty-handed. They will have a chance to win the AIG Junior Cup for the second time in the club's history when the All Ireland Finals return to the glorious Co Mayo parkland next month.

The club won the All Ireland Junior Cup title for the first time at Lahinch in 1980, and they look to have a combative team again this year.

Three matches went to extra holes in the 3-2 semi-final win over Galway with Ronan Hehir and Fergus Rothwell winning on the 20th and Anto Browne on the 21st.

Enniscrone beat Loughrea 3-2 in their semi-final, but with the final tied 2-2, Shane Larkin beat Joseph Forde Jnr by one hole in the last game to get the Mayo quintet over the line.

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