Saturday delivered two results which could be termed mild surprises. In neither game, though, could the result have been deemed a shock, writes Nickey Brennan.
In Wexford Park the free entry after the previous week’s postponement ensured a bumper crowd. For much of the first half the Ballyhale Shamrocks ruled supreme and a miserable afternoon appeared in prospect for the Wexford champions, Oulart the Ballagh.
The second half, though, was all about the Wexford men who will be delighted to have sneaked a one-point win. But we can only wonder what the outcome might have been had Henry Shefflin not been forced off with an injury.
Neither can it be forgotten, either, that T.J. Reid was also absent due to injury.
In Freshford, Lisdowney scored a thoroughly deserved win over neighbours St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) in the Northern under-21 ‘A’ hurling semi-final. This was a case of one team being supremely focused and determined and the other being surprisingly flat.
Lisdowney won by three points but their superiority all over the pitch deserved a wider margin at the finish. After a number of energy-sapping campaigns over almost two years Ballyragget eventually ran out of stream.
There was no shame in this defeat, as the effort from these players, over such a long period of time, has been extraordinary. Lisdowney are a team on an upward trajectory and finally look to be on the cusp of a major breakthrough.
Unfortunately they must now wait, most likely into the New Year, before their Northern final opponents are known.
Well done to Clara and Thomastown on their provincial final victories. Comprehensive wins were expected for the Kilkenny champions. That is how it turned out.