Big test for last men standing

IT may have been a bad year on the championship front, but an All-Ireland final appearance is still very much on the cards for Kilkenny hurling.

IT may have been a bad year on the championship front, but an All-Ireland final appearance is still very much on the cards for Kilkenny hurling.

The county will enter into the last chance saloon this weekend when the intermediates travel to Thurles for their semi-final clash with Galway (throw-in 6pm).

And while supporters may be downhearted after seeing the seniors, under-21s and minors lose their way, intermediate manager Pat O’Grady has called on people to come out and roar his team on as they bid to make a sixth successive final.

“We may be the last team standing,” he said, “but after the year Kilkenny have had, wouldn’t it be great to see a hurling team in an All-Ireland final?”

O’Grady and his charges have had to prepare without a Leinster championship this year, but that hasn’t deterred the side from giving their all in the build-up to the big game.

“We’ve had a great run into the game as players have been training with their clubs and training with ourselves,” he said. “The players are as focused and as sharp now as they’ve ever been - there’ll be no excuses in that regard on Saturday.”

The intermediates could provide the second half of a super Saturday for Kilkenny Gaelic games. The senior camogie team will have an All-Ireland berth in their sights when they take on Cork in their semi-final at 2pm. See pages 82 and 83 for more.