Newport's Conor Floyd clears his lines despite the best efforts of Silvermines' David Keogh. Photograph: Bridget Delaney

North clashes highlight O Riain quarters

By Shane Brophy
Carrick Swan v Mullinahone in Clonmel Sportsfield on Saturday @ 4.00pm
These South Tipperary derbies tend to take on a life of their own and form can go out the window as these rivalries draw the best out of each other.
Both come into the knockout stages with two wins out of three in the group stages. Carrick Swans rebounded well from an opening day loss to Ballingarry to easily defeat Killenaule and Cashel King Cormacs.
Mullinahone’s only defeat so far is to an in-form Newport side with their victories coming in expected fashion over Sean Treacy’s and Clonakenny.
On paper, Carrick Swans form-guide looks to be better but Mullinahone’s recent record over the Swan is very good, including last year’s South final. The easy prediction to make is if Eoin Kelly is stopped, Mullinahone are stopped, but even in the twilight of his career, no one seems to be able to slow the Tipperary great down. However, Carrick Swans are a youthful side with plenty of energy and may well have enough to progress past the stage where they were eliminated twelve months ago by Holycross. Verdict: Carrick Swan
Thurles Sarsfields v Killenaule in Cashel on Sunday @ 12.00pm
Having topped their group in impressive fashion, Thurles Sarsfields drew the short straw for the quarter finals in Killenaule.
The South side can be mercurial at the best of times and this is certainly the case in recent weeks where they rebounded from a ten-point loss to Carrick Swan to rout deadly rivals Ballingarry in their final group game.
This was despite being without the services of John O’Dwyer and Kieran Bergin, and if they can get them back for the knockout stages, they will be hard to beat.
Thurles Sarsfields come into the quarter finals unbeaten with two wins and a draw and are benefitting from preparing at a high level with their senior ‘A’ team. Many of this team would walk into other clubs first teams including Michael Purcell, Seanie Butler and Jack Derby. They play a slick brand of hurling that can be difficult to counteract, always having support runners. They lost Kieran Moloney to the senior ‘A’ team which will weaken their defence a little.
The pressure will be on Killenaule as a club of their stature shouldn’t be losing to another clubs second team and they should have too much savvy to see Thurles off in a tight encounter. Verdict: Killenaule
Newport v Silvermines in Nenagh on Sunday @ 2.00pm
Newport come into the quarter finals with the only one hundred percent record from the group stages and while they will be favourites, Silvermines can’t be ruled out having battled their way to this stage.
Indeed, Silvermines are a club riding the crest of a wave at the moment with their junior team motoring well, while the minors gave the club a massive lift with their superb North final win last week. This was on top of this Silvermines senior team earning the draw they needed against Ballina in the last round of group games to reach this stage. Declan Corcoran’s charges are responded well to the first-round loss to Templederry to defeat St Mary’s. They get the very best out of their resources but are relying heavily on Jason Forde providing scores from placed balls. It will be a message being driven into the Newport players this week by their manager Tom Moylan that discipline is key in not giving the Tipp star opportunities from anywhere 100 yards from goal.
However, Ruairi Maher, Conor McKelvey and Orrie Quirke provide a strong scoring threat for the ‘Mines if they get good possession but at the other end Pa Ryan, Colin Floyd and Darragh Carroll have been on fire for Newport so far.
Newport’s recent record against Silvermines isn’t good, apart from a narrow win in 2018 and this will come into it too but the Mulcair men should have enough to make the semi-finals. Verdict: Newport
Templederry Kenyons v Lorrha in Cloughjordan on Sunday @ 2.00pm
Despite being at different ends of the North division, both sides are extremely familiar with each other in recent years. However, in terms of victories it is all one-way traffic with Templederry having the upper hand in the three North & O Riain Cup meetings over the past three years.
However, you fell that Lorrha are closing the gap and come into this game following their win over Portroe last time out in what was a knockout game in the group. Their forwards are extremely potent with the three Fogarty brothers, Patrick Maher, Eoin McIntyre, and Cian Hogan all match winners on their day. However, Lorrha’s defence do give up chances at the other end and will need to tighten up considerably for a Templederry side who in Eanna Murray, Sean Ryan and Gearoid Ryan will punish those defensive lapses. Templederry scored six goals in their O Riain Cup win over Lorrha last year and John McIntyre’s charges can’t allow that to happen again.
Templederry’s mettle was tested last time out against St Mary’s when with minutes to go they were starring at relegation but conjured up the late points to win the game and reach the quarter finals. Their experience at this stage may just be the trump card in what should be an exciting and high-scoring encounter. Verdict: Templederry Kenyons
Relegation Semi-Finals
Ballingarry v Kiladangan in Templetuohy on Sunday @ 1.00pm

It has been a tough welcome to the second tier for Kiladangan, who despite being extremely competitive in their games against Portroe, Lorrha and Thurles Sarsfields, came out on the losing side. The are short in the forwards which has hurt them but all the pressure will be on Ballingarry in this encounter and the manner of their capitulation to Killenaule last time out which put them in this position could be lingering. Verdict: Ballingarry
Sean Treacy’s v St Mary's in Cahir on Sunday @ 1.00pm
St Mary’s are probably the most unfortunate of the four teams to be in O Riain Cup relegation. Bar a sloppy first half against Silvermines, they have hurled particularly well against Ballina and in defeat to Templederry. Sean Treacy’s lost all their three games in the group as they find the rise from intermediate difficult and St Mary’s may send them a step closer to an immediate return. Verdict: St Mary’s