THE inter-county championship is done and dusted - now it’s time for clubs to take over the spotlight.
The final round of intermediate hurling league games will be played this weekend, with results vital for clubs at both ends of the tables.
The three Group One games will be played on Saturday (throw-in 1.45pm), with the trio of Group Two encounters being held on Sunday (throw-in 2pm).
Canon Kearns Park: St Lachtain’s v Conahy Shamrocks
There’s an air of certainty about this game as, regardless of the result, Conahy Shamrocks will finish last in Group One. The Shamrocks have lost all four games to date, leaving them rooted to the bottom of their group - the same place they occupied in 2011.
The outlook is a little rosier for St Lachtain’s (Freshford), who are all but guaranteed to finish in contention for some silverware. Their fourth round win over St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) left them within touching distance of a Shield final berth, a title they last won in 2009. That season ended with promotion to the senior ranks and a club All-Ireland title - they’d happily settle for the same again.
Palmerstown: Emeralds v Tullogher-Rosbercon
Of the three Group One games this is the most delicately poised. Both the Emeralds (Urlingford) and Tullogher-Rosbercon can guarantee their intermediate status should they win here - but both could also find themselves in the bottom two by 4pm on Saturday. Of the pair Tullogher have the slight edge. They beat Young Irelands in the last round, the only team to do so in this year’s league. Although Emeralds also won in round four, beating Conahy, they have conceded much more than they have scored - leaking 7-54 to Tullogher’s 3-55. Scores should prove plentiful, but this one could be decided by the stronger defence.
St John’s Park: Young Irelands v St Patrick’s
In a foot-race for league silverware, Young Irelands are leading the way. Irelands could have already booked their place in the league final - a competition they have never won - but for that fourth round loss to Tullogher. St Patrick’s lost the edge for the Shield honours thanks to their defeat by St Lachtain’s. Both will be keen to get back to winning ways here.
Piltown: Glenmore v John Lockes
Victory is the key here, with two teams striving for survival. Win and Glenmore know their stay at intermediate level is secure for another year. Losing will throw open the prospect of securing it the hard way, via the first round of the championship. John Lockes (Callan) are in the more precarious position as they occupy fifth place in the table, just below Glenmore. Three consecutive league defeats have left them hanging on - they will not want to make it a fourth.
Tullogher: Mullinavat v Rower-Inistioge
Mullinavat have a chance to ease their way into the Shield final, but to do that they must overtake a Rower side with designs of their own on the spoils. The ’Vat won their first and fourth games in league, but lost to Clara and Mooncoin when they failed to hit double figures on the scoreboard. Thing have been better for the Rower, who have lost just one game, but a third round draw with Glenmore means they are just one point clear of Sunday’s rivals.
Ballyhale: Mooncoin v Clara
The meeting of bottom versus top, this could be an interesting tussle. Mooncoin could leapfrog other sides and rise to midtable security with a win here, but to do that they’ll have to beat a Clara side who are looking to defend the only 100% record in the intermediate grade. It’s a big ask, especially for a side who shipped a 14-point defeat to the Rower last time out, but Mooncoin always relish a challenge. As for Clara, winning will keep their long-term goal on track - a swift return to the senior ranks.