JUST like at senior level there is plenty at stake for Kilkenny’s intermediate clubs this weekend.
With two quarter-finals and a league final to be played, some clubs will savour that winning feeling. For others, it will be the end of the road.
Intermediate championship quarter-final - Piltown v St Anne’s
Piltown had an excellent league campaign with three wins from three matches, but they suffered a reality check in the league semi-final as they were well beaten by Dicksboro.
Doubts surround the availability of Katie Power, who is working her way back to full fitness and Karen Duggan, who is currently in training with the Irish women’s senior soccer team ahead of two Euro 2013 qualifiers. Missing those two would be a massive blow to Piltown’s chances of progressing in the championship.
St Anne’s (Johnstown) had a contrasting league campaign to Piltown as they lost all three matches, but the 2009 intermediate champions eased any relegation worries with a ten-point win over Clara.
Like St Lachtain’s at senior level, St Anne’s may be coming into form at just the right time. The Saints also possess a good balance to their side.
Despite Piltown possessing home advantage, both sides are heading in opposite directions momentum wise. St Anne’s should advance to an intermediate semi-final.
Intermediate championship quarter-final - Paulstown v Rower-Inistioge
This is an eagerly anticipated contest. Paulstown lost out in a classic epic 14-goal thriller to Tullaroan (8-8 to 6-11) in the league semi-final while the Rower, intermediate finalists for the past two years, have struggled to recapture the consistency of their performances in the build-up to last year’s county final. Their goal-scoring exhibition against James Stephens, where they found the net on eight occasions wasn’t a surprise.
Overall Tullaroan would be fancied for the county spoils, but surely there is a big display in Rower-Inistioge yet.
They are so determined to make the breakthrough at Intermediate level after heartbreak over the past two years. However, they are going to have to work harder to do so.
A very close contest is expected. A replay may be required after extra-time.
Intermediate league final - Tullaroan v Dicksboro
The junior champions from the last two seasons will battle it out for honours here. Earlier in the year the two teams served up an epic league thriller with Tullaroan emerging by a solitary point. 4-5 to 3-7.
Tullaroan have made massive strides over the past years. Progressing through both junior ranks to intermediate level, they are strong contenders for glory. They have serious young talent with a wealth of All-Ireland medal winners in their ranks at inter-county and colleges. Grace Walsh, cousin Miriam, Noelle Maher are all superb young players, while the experienced Aine Fahey will have a vital part to play.
Dicksboro will be relying on the likes of Niamh Kelly, the highly skilled Orla Hanrick, and the experience of Sinead Maher, Niamh O’Donoghue and Jenny Dillon.
Both sides know where the goalposts are, having bagged 20 goals in their four matches to date including 8 goals apiece in one of their respective encounters.
However, a more telling statistic is that in the four games played so far, Dicksboro have conceded six; Tullaroan have conceded 14.
That is evidence to suggest that the ’Boro defence is more watertight. It may be significant.