The division is exact, right down the middle between North and South, and that’s the way it will remain until the final day, possibly even the final minute.
The intermediate hurling championship has reached the semi-final stage with two teams from the North and two more from the South still in the hunt for the Hanrahan Cup.
Senior side of last season, Dunnamaggin and the Rower-Inistioge represent a strong hand and will make a bold bid to bring the honours South, while former All-Ireland club junior champions, St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) and Emeralds (Urlingford) will be hoping to bring the celebrations to the opposite end of the county.
It all adds up to a most primising afternoon of hurling in Nowlan Park on Sunday when the two semi-finals will be decided. The final will be played two weeks later.
The Dunnamaggin versus Emeralds match is a most interesting affair.
Dunnamaggin have, thus far, been performing like the athlete motoring along nicely and trying to generate more power for a big finish. They are very strong at the back, but getting the returns from an attack that has yet to sparkle is the big challenge.
While the Hickeys’, Noel and Canice form the foundation of a solid defence, county panelist Willie Phelan is their play anywhere man who appears to get the posting of where the need is greatest. He started the quarter-final in midfield, but he was ast full-forward when he netted a vital goal.
Phelan is moving and hurling well at the moment, and while Kenny Moore and Colin Herity can always be relied on for a few scores, they need more from the rest. Kieran Bergin has been looking good of late. If they ignite up front they could blast the chances of any team.
Emeralds surprised many by scoring a big win over St Lachtain’s in the quarter-finals. They ran up 20 points too, which was fair going, and especially so without the injury Derek Lyng. Their earlier form didn’t hint at such power.
County star, Aidan Fogarty, was tremendous. He was the leading scorer with nine points. He showed the way, and there were plenty willing to follow. Scoring a win over one of the championship favourites has to be good for the confidence. Emeralds have set the bar high. Now they have to reach that height again. A tough ask, especially after warning all of their potential.
Verdict - Dunnamaggin.
The Rower-Inistioge and St Patrick’s could be a high scoring affair, if the forwards let rip. They registered 41 points between them in their last outing, which would suggest there is fair fire power on both sides.
St Patrick’s are young and ambitious. When the going got heavy after a lot of rain towards the business end of last season they suffered. In different conditions they could have ended up as champions.
They have some lovely hurlers - Joe Brennan, Kevin Kelly, Kieran Delaney, Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, Michael Brennan and so on. They have massive potential, and the good thing for the club is that the best of most of these players should be seen in future years. They are not prepared to wait. They are hungry for honours now!
The Rower-Inistioge are absolute in their commitment, and they have such physical strength at the back that they could take on virtually any team. Kieran Joyce hurls like a God in the colours. Ditto Sean Cummins. Goalie Liam Tierney is a confidence giver to all in front.
The Rower’s restricted a good Thomastown attack to 11 scores the last day. They look good.
Verdict - Rower-Inistioge.
Dunnamaggin - David Herity, Mark Dowling, Noel Hickey, Mark Heffernan, Aidan O’Donovan, Canice Hickey, Andrew Hickey, Willie Phelan, Darren Fitzpatrick, Seaghan O’Neill, Kenny Moore, Peter Kenneally, Anthony Kearney, Colin Herity, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Ray Cody, Paul Kirwan, Kieran Bergin, Paddy Delaney, Noel Lahart, Eoghan Kearney, William Hughes, Sean Connery, William Moylan, Aaron Doherty, Liam Heffernan, Richrd O’Shea, Tommy O’Brien, John Fitzpatrick, J.J. Dunphy.
Emerealds - Shane Moriarlty, Thomas Moriarty, Damien Fitzgerald, Joey Doheny, Eoin Moriarty, Derek Lyng, Brain Troy, Padraig Phelan, Shane Norton, Conor Martin, Francis Clohessy, Pa doheny, Brian Campion, Alan Guilfoyle, Aidan Fogarty, Joey Kavanagh, Anthony Farrell, Shane Quinlan, Davy O’Gorman, Brian Webster, Michel Fitzgerald, Nicky Walsh, Eddie Ryan, Cathal Walsh, Philip O’Dwyer, Fergal Tobin.
Rower-Inistioge - Liam Tierney, Eoin Doyle, Sean Cummins, James Doyle, Ruari Galavan, Kieran Joyce, Sean Lyster, Sean Grace, Joe Lyng, Michael Grace, David Lyng, James Cassin, Cathal Bolger, Tom Murphy, Paul Sheehan, David Dunphy, Conor Joyce, Neil Lyng, David Tennyson, Richie Ryan, Ciaran Ryan, Michael Doyle, Nicky Kenny, Conor Lyng, Paudie Fleming, Luke Tennyson, Padraic Ryan, James Roche, Michael Cassin, John J. Kenny, Padraig Tierney.
St Patrick’s - Michael Gannon, Paddy Cahill, Stephen Staunton, James Gannon, Robbie Healy, Kieran Delaney, Geoffrey Brennan, Brian ‘Brooky’ Phelan, Bill Staunton, Michael Bennan, Kevin Kelly, Joe Brennan, Conor Delaney, Eoghan Bergin, Barry Staunton, Mark Tyler, Sean Mooney, Jody Phelan, Mark Staunton, Stephen Roberts, Alan Ruth, David Kelly, Saoirse Kenny, James Staunton, Dermot Brophy, Paddy McEvoy, Donal Brennan, John Mooney, Micheal Kenny, Conor Foley, Jack O’Shea, Jack Ryan, Liam Lacey, Bill Morrissey, John Staunton, James Morrissey, Brendan Dooley, John Butler, Niall Staunton.