Nenagh's Adam Gratton holds possession with Daire Quinn supporting and Lar Corbett challenging. Photograph: Bridget Delaney

Exciting senior hurling quarter finals in store for on-line viewing

By Shane Brophy
What should be the most exciting weekend of the GAA club year in Tipperary with the county senior hurling quarter finals, has been tempered by the fact that no supporters will be in attendance at Semple Stadium.
With the Covid-19 restrictions now preventing any supporters from attending, the only way to see these four mouth-watering County Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals will be through the Tipperary GAA website and their online streaming service where a match pass (€10), weekend pass (€20) or a season pass (€80) are available.
Kiladangan v Toomevara on Saturday in Semple Stadium @ 2.00pm
A repeat of last years quarter final which Kiladangan pulled through in the end 3-12 to 1-12 but the final margin was harsh on Toomevara. This was on top of a North Championship defeat earlier in the year.
Between, minor and under 21 as well, many of these Toomevara players will be sick in the teeth from losing to Kiladangan in recent years but they are coming up against a Kiladangan side that are close to their peak at the moment. They have a first fifteen up there with the best in the county, they just haven’t scaled the height of becoming county champions having come close in 2016 and 2019.
That’s a pressure Toomevara will tap into and try and ensure the game is still alive going into the final ten minutes when some doubts might come into the Kiladangan minds. To that end, Toomevara’s defence will have to be on their guard as Kiladangan have a major goal threat whether it is Dan O’Meara, Paul Flynn, Joe Gallagher, Bryan McLoughney etc… The open spaces of Semple Stadium will suit them but Toome scored 1-23 there in their most recent trip against Upperchurch. They will have to be as efficient again up front but this year the scoring pressure is being spread around which was a weakness last year. The return of David Young has provided leadership and experience up front from where the likes of Kevin McCarthy and Jack Delaney have benefitted. There won’t a lot in this but Kiladangan’s ability to get goals could be decisive. Verdict: Kiladangan
Thurles Sarsfields v Nenagh Eire Og on Saturday in Semple Stadium @ 6.00pm
Based on current form, Thurles Sarsfields will be expected to win but Nenagh Eire Og are one club that have no fear of Tommy Maher’s charges. While Thurles have shaded the contests in recent years, they have always been competitive.
Sarsfields have been the form side so far in the championship and now they are back in Semple Stadium, it only plays into their hands further. The loss of Billy McCarthy and the potential loss of Denis Maher who came off injured in their final group game with Moycarkey could be a leveller as they provide the physical presence in attack for the livewire forwards such as Aidan McCormack and Conor Lanigan feed off.
This is game where every Nenagh forward must contribute. Jake Morris has been their leading light, but he is likely to be man-marked by either Ronan Maher or Michael Cahill, who have been excellent in those roles so far against the oppositions key forward. It needs Michael & Tommy Heffernan to be to the fore as well as Paddy Murphy who has been off his best so far. Nenagh need to be bring an intensity from the off or they’ll be over-run as they were against Clonoulty in their most recent visit to Semple Stadium, however they are stronger with a fit again Barry Heffernan at centre back. All the aces are with Thurles but Nenagh can win this one if they bring their very best performance. Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields
Clonoulty/Rossmore v Loughmore/Castleiney on Sunday in Semple Stadium @ 2.00pm
Arguably the tie of the round between the sides who produced the game of the championship last year when Clonoulty defeated Loughmore in extra time in the preliminary quarter final in Littleton.
The key turning point in that game was the sending off of Liam McGrath and with him not being around this year, Loughmore are still powering on regardless and have found a new McGrath in Conor who has added to their attack this year. They will hope Liam Treacy is available to play having sat out the Kilruane victory through injury as it is in the middle third where this game will be won and lost. Again, the focus will be on Noel & John McGrath and Evan Sweeney to lead the way but defensively they are strong not just with Brian McGrath and John Meagher, but Willie Eviston and John Ryan were to the fore last time out.
Clonoulty/Rossmore’s win over Nenagh Eire Og was one of the performances of the group stage and catapulted them into serious championship challengers. Under new trainer Dave Keane, they have added greater pace and movement to their play, which has created more scoring chances which they have taken, taking the pressure off Timmy Hammersley for scores. John O’Keeffe should return from injury after being minded in their last two games with a rib injury.
That Loughmore/Castleiney effectively came through a knockout match against Kilruane will stand to them but overall Clonoulty/Rossmore have that bit more quality in what should be a terrific encounter that may need extra time, or more, to decide it. Verdict: Clonoulty/Rossmore
Borris-Ileigh v Drom & Inch on Sunday in Semple Stadium @ 6.00pm
It will be hard for both sets of supporters not to be present in Semple Stadium on Sunday evening for another renewal of this feisty local derby.
Borris-Ileigh managed to maintain bragging rights at the same stage last year in Holycross when the maroons set out on their remarkable run which brought them all the way to the All-Ireland final. That confidence gained from that run has taken Borris-Ileigh to a higher level where they don’t get flustered in games and stay the course. They have gotten to this stage without Paddy Stapleton and it may well be from here on his loss will be felt if he is unable to play, particularly with Seamus Callanan having to be watched. At the other end, Niall Kenny has been a torment for Burgess and Upperchurch in their last two games and how Drom manager James Woodlock tries to deal with him will be key in deciding this one.
Drom & Inch come into the quarter final with patchy form having lost to Kiladangan last time out while they were outplayed for long spells by Roscrea. However, defeating JK Brackens effectively playing the entire match with fourteen men is evidence of their steel which will be needed in overcoming Borris-Ileigh. Johnny Ryan will be back from suspension to line out at centre back for Drom, however, they haven’t shown enough so far to suggest they can dethrone the county champions. Verdict: Borris-Ileigh
Relegation Semi-Finals
Eire Og Annacarty v Roscrea on Saturday in Drombane @ 4.00pm

The pressure is really on this Saturday to stay in the top tier for 2021. Roscrea only have one point to show for their three games against Drom, JK Brackens and Kiladangan and will reflect they left a quarter final spot behind them. Annacarty were pointless in their three games against Holycross, Clonoulty and Nenagh but were hurling better as they championship went on. They are the more experienced side and that may prove decisive. Verdict: Eire Og Annacarty
Moycarkey/Borris v Burgess on Saturday in Templederry @ 4.00pm
It’s no surprise to see Moycarkey at this stage considering the group they were in with Loughmore, Kilruane and Thurles Sarsfields and they probably knew that themselves. Their performances against Kilruane and Thurles would have beaten many other top tier teams. They also have a psychological edge in that Burgess defeated them in the 2018 O Riain Cup final. It has been a tough campaign for Burgess with losses to Upperchurch, Borris-Ileigh and Toomevara but they were extremely committed in all three games and that mentality will be vital. However, Moycarkey may have too much scoring. Verdict: Moycarkey/Borris