Senior quarter finals highlights bumper weekend of hurling action
By Shane Brophy
The County Hurling Championships step up a notch in terms intensity this weekend with the finals now just a month away, while at the other end grades the battle is on to retain their statuses in the relegation semi-finals.
Senior Hurling Championship Quarter Finals
Drom & Inch v Loughmore/Castleiney at FBD Semple Stadium @ 4.00pm
The tie of the round between two teams extremely familiar with each other through tradition and blood.
Drom & Inch have been the team of the championship so far. To come through a group unbeaten with Thurles Sarsfields, Borris-Ileigh and Templederry was impressive, playing a high-powered brand of hurling. They are a team brimming with energy from Podge Campion and Fintan Purcell at half back, through John Campion at midfield, and in attack have the guile and class of Johnny Ryan, David Collins, and the rejuvenated Seamus Callanan.
They have already beaten Loughmore/Castleiney this summer in the first round of the Mid Championship, but the defending county champions were short Noel McGrath and Ciaran Connolly on that occasion, and despite the continued loss of John McGrath and Ed Connolly, remain incredibly hard to beat.
Despite Loughmore’s recent pedigree, the pressure is on Drom, as it was in the Mid final when they fell to JK Brackens. That same focus is on them again and if they come through it, it would give them a massive boost in confidence to go and win it all.
Verdict: Drom & Inch
Kilruane MacDonaghs v Toomevara at FBD Semple Stadium @ 5.45pm
A quarter final of great tradition but one which both teams still have a lot of questions that need answering.
Just when you begin to doubt Kilruane MacDonaghs, they reel you right back in as they did with the win over Clonoulty/Rossmore to reach the quarter finals. They’ll be favourites for this game but the last team they would have wanted to see coming is Toomevara, even if they are, points wise from the group stages, the lowest seeded team to get to the quarter finals. However, this is what makes Toomevara so dangerous as they have players of ability, but they are only hurling in fits and starts. If they produce a complete performance, there is no reason why they can’t win this game.
The loss of key players is always felt more deep into competitions and not having Craig Morgan will be a loss to Kilruane as they aim to tie down the likes of Jack Delaney, Mark & Kevin McCarthy who can be match-winners.
Kilruane have endured tough knockout stage losses in recent years and in a championship that is there for anyone to win if they bring their ‘A’ game over the next month, the prize is tantalising. Verdict: Toomevara
Upperchurch/Drombane v JK Brackens at FBD Semple Stadium @ 2.00pm
Upperchurch/Drombane claimed the initial bragging rights in their dual code quarter finals with JK Brackens by emerging winners in the football championship last Saturday. That would have been against the grain and the confidence from that should carry over into the hurling clash, however, Upperchurch’s only defeat in the hurling championship so far was a Mid semi-final defeat to JK Brackens.
They’ll feel a first ever Mid title was left behind them, after taking out Thurles Sarsfields in the quarter final but instead it was JK Brackens who made their divisional breakthrough. The Templemore/Clonmore side produced a storming final quarter comeback to beat Nenagh in the preliminary quarter-final and how they set-up will be interesting as when they played man on man it served them better than playing a sweeper.
However, in a game where both sides know each other so well, it could well be a turgid affair where neither takes too many risks, but Upperchurch’s greater scoring spread, and confidence might see them to victory.
Kiladangan v Clonoulty/Rossmore at FBD Semple Stadium @ 3.45pm
It will be a poignant occasion in Semple Stadium on Sunday as Clonoulty/Rossmore return to the venue for the first time since their skipper Dillon Quirke passed away on the field of play last month.
It could work one of two ways for the West champions, 1 – it will inspire them to another epic performance and victory as they showed against Thurles Sarsfields in the last round, or 2 – by the time they settle into the game they could be too far behind as Kiladangan have the ability to blitz them early.
However, we haven’t seen Kiladangan at their best this season. They have only lost one of six games between North and County Championship, but they have only been hurling in fits and starts. They have been slowly getting their best team on the field and the last three weeks will have given them a chance to sharpen up more and if they can get more from Paul Flynn, Dan O’Meara and Billy Seymour, it should get them over the line, particularly if their full back line can get to grips with a youthful and lively Clonoulty attack, with or without Conor Hammersley, if he aims to make a trip home from the US. Verdict: Kiladangan
Senior Hurling Relegation Semi-Finals
Eire Og Annacarty v Moycarkey/Borris in Clonoulty on Saturday @ 2.00pm
Eire Og Annacarty are traditionalists in knowing how to survive relegation playoffs. Over the past two seasons between hurling and football they have survived on four occasions, including last Saturday’s win over Aherlow in football, although that required extra time. If that hasn’t taken too much out of them, they should be okay. Moycarkey are fresh and while they haven’t had the progression they would have hoped for this year, they are a club heading in the right direction.
Mullinahone v Templederry Kenyons in Templemore on Saturday @ 4.30pm
If they were in any other group, Templederry might have made a quarter final. Instead, they are facing a relegation battle, but they mentally might have been expecting that with the group they were handed. Their performances in all three games were good, despite defeats, and if they carry that mentality, they should be in a position to take advantage of an injury hit Mullinahone who aren’t performing to the same level of the last two campaigns. Verdict: Templederry Kenyons
Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter Finals
Cashel King Cormacs v Burgess in Borrisoleigh @ 2.00pm
Two games ago, Burgess were looking at a relegation battle, now with back-to-back wins they have confidence and momentum to take into a clash with competition favourites Cashel. The West side are dripping with talent, but they haven’t got the same level of experience that Burgess have and if the game is close going into the final quarter, Brian Hogan’s charges have a great chance, but Cashel’s greater spread of scorers could be the decisive factor. Verdict: Cashel King Cormacs
Gortnahoe/Glengoole v Portroe in Borrisoleigh @ 3.45pm
A really hard game to call. Arguably, Gortnahoe have been the form team in the championship, with group wins over Ballina, Killenaule and Thurles Sarsfields. They have a potent attack but no better team than Portroe to be able to slow them down and this is what the North champions will have to do. They are very adept at coming through close games and with the pressure on in the knockout stages, it is a great trait to have. Verdict: Portroe
Roscrea v Thurles Sarsfields in Toomevara @ 1.00pm
A fixture which has senior tradition dripping from it, but this is Roscrea’s first team versus Sarsfields second team. Roscrea cannot afford to take Sarsfields for granted as they have too much talent to be discounted. The pressure is on Roscrea and playing a clubs second team doesn’t help as expectation rises but manager Liam England will be aware of that. Roscrea have been getting better through the championship and the last three weeks will have given Alan Tynan time to get fitter after returning from injury and his presence could be the last piece in the jigsaw. Verdict: Roscrea
St Mary’s v Silvermines in Holycross @ 1.00pm
If you take a form line through Carrick Swan, Silvermines have a great chance as they beat the South champions who easily beat St Mary’s in the divisional championship. Silvermines are battle-hardened at this stage and if the game goes into the closing stages, you wouldn’t bet against them, but St Mary’s are a different team from the Swans clash and expect Seamus Kennedy to get a man-marking job on county teammate Jason Forde which could determine the outcome. Verdict: St Mary’s
Premier Intermediate Hurling Relegation Semi-Finals
Kiladangan v Newport in Dolla on Saturday @ 2.30pm
Newport would have had ambitions of being in the quarter finals but for the second year they find themselves in a relegation battle. They have too much talent to be involved but they cannot treat Kiladangan lightly who won’t want to give up their second-tier status lightly. Verdict: Newport
Ballina v Carrick Swan at The Ragg on Sunday @ 1.00pm
Since winning the South title, Carrick Swans form has deserted them, however, despite the extra time loss to Silvermines in the preliminary quarter final, it was done with a depleted side and the return of Gavin O’Halloran, and possibly Danny O’Hanlon will be a huge boost. Ballina’s hurling campaign hasn’t gotten off the ground and with a football semi-final upcoming, might have their focus elsewhere. Verdict: Carrick Swan
Intermediate Hurling Championship Preliminary Quarter Final
Kilsheelan/Kilcash v Boherlahan-Dualla in Cahir on Saturday @ 3.00pm
Either the South or the Mid champion will fall. Boherlahan impressed in their loss to Lorrha in the last group game and the delay to this game will have given them a chance to get injured players back. Kilsheelan haven’t fired fully yet as they did last year when they got to the final and now out of the football championship, a fully focused side will be dangerous. Verdict: Boherlahan-Dualla
Intermediate Hurling Relegation Semi-Finals
Ballinahinch v Ballybacon/Grange in Clonoulty on Saturday @ 3.45pm
Ballinahinch have been hurling better as the summer has gone on and if they continue to that level of improvement, they should retain their intermediate status this weekend.
Carrick Davins v Shannon Rovers in Littleton on Sunday @ 1.00pm
After reaching a North final and drawing with Kilsheelan, things haven’t gone well for the Rovers in recent game, and they cannot afford to take the Davins lightly in their battle to stay up. Verdict: Shannon Rovers
JUNIOR ‘A’ HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FinalS
Lattin Cullen v Thurles Sarsfields in Dundrum @ 1.30pm. Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields
Upperchurch/Drombane v Galtee Rovers in Dundrum @ 3.15pm. Verdict: Upperchurch/Drombane
Moyle Rovers v Borris-Ileigh in Cashel @ 1.30pm. Verdict: Moyle Rovers
Toomevara v Grangemockler/Ballyneale in Cashel @ 3.15pm. Verdict: Toomevara