THIS weekend is not all about the big boys in the senior and intermediate hurling ranks.
The newly-crafted junior championship is into the quarter-final stages, with some very tasty confrontations on the menu. The action begins with three games on Saturday, with the last quarter-final on Sunday.
Saturday - Mooncoin v O’Loughlin Gaels in Hugginstown (3.30pm)
This is an intriguing game insofar that it is the quarter-final game of the teams who have higher graded teams. Mooncoin are well equipped to take on most of the remaining teams left in the competition, but whether the expectation includes a team of the calibre of O’Loughlin Gaels remains to be seen.
Having seen this O’Loughlin outfit easily take care of a highly fancied Glenmore in the All-County League, we formed the opinion that it would take a serious team to take them out. Can Mooncoin oblige?
It is doubtful, so I will have to plump for the city lads in this one.
Saturday - Galmoy v Lisdowney in Freshford (4pm)
There is never too much of a gap between these two when it comes down to serious hurling. Lisdowney had the upper hand in their recent League face-off, but it does not mean that a repeat is on the cards.
With Ruairi Hickey, Sean Phelan, Pat Carroll and Patrick Bowden in fine form for Lisdowney at the moment, it will be a difficult call for the Galmoy men, who will be much dependent on the Doherty brothers, Niall and Noel, Jimmy Dunne and Martin Phelan. It will be close, but we fancy the Lis men to come home in front.
Saturday - Piltown v Slieverue in Kilmacow (5pm)
This all-South game is one where Piltown should, and are expected to, come out in front at the finish.
Piltown got the fright of their lives against a very moderate Windgap last weekend, so they will know that they will have to be fired for this to win. Slieverue will know that they have nothing to lose, so they will give it a lash.
Piltown have plenty of excellent hurlers in their ranks but they are somewhat short in the resolve sector, as was evident against Windgap. Slieverue will offer plenty of effort, determination, and will to win. However, I take Piltown to get to the wire first - but gallant Slieverue will make them earn it.
Sunday - St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) v Thomastown in Clara (5pm)
This is certainly the most difficult game to analyse.
Both sides will have very positive vibes about winning the county title and they have every reason to harbour such ambitions. Both side have some excellent hurlers, with the Northern side a little better posted in that regard. But you never know what Thomastown team will come to the party.
If Thomastown hit the ground running and maintain their momentum they can, and probably will, win. But there are those who feel that this could be Ballyragget’s year. I’ll stick with the Thomastown lads, but I am prepared for the Pat’s lads to make a liar out of me.
There might be great action in the higher grades, but it will not all be confined to the higher grades.