City rivals O’Loughlin Gaels and Dicksboro meet this weekend in what promises to be a cracking finale to the minor hurling season.
Sunday’s minor Roinn A county final is one that both sides will be gunning for, having reached the decider through some tough challenges.
O’Loughlin Gaels overcame the heavily fancied James Stephens in the semi-final, while Dicksboro comfortably beat a talented Thomastown.
It’s a tough game to call, as both sides will fancy themselves in Nowlan Park (throw-in 12.45pm).
O’Loughlin’s have a number of hurlers with inter-county experience, none more important than Ross Butler. The burly forward played the target man role to great effect in this year’s championship.
Gary Bryan and Danny Bolger have also become leaders for their team and their roles in defence and attack are crucial.
Dicksboro have an equally balanced side, but so often at minor level the fate of a game can be swung by just a few.
Andrew Gaffney is one of those hurlers. The dead ball specialist also has inter-county experience and valuable hours at club senior level.
Dicksboro seem to have a production line of lightning-quick corner forwards. This year’s team is no different. Both Jamie Byrne and Corey Cahill have got pace to burn and their speed will be key in this game.
However, with a final in the middle of November, speed is not going to be the most valuable of assets in poor weather. Resilience to the tough conditions will go a long way to deciding this game.
O’Loughlin’s have looked a serious outfit all through the championship. Before their meeting with the Village side they took apart a determined St Lachtain’s (Freshford) in their quarter-final clash.
Winning by a comfortable 2-19 to 1-8 margin, they announced their intentions for the title. With that semi-final victory over the Village, their confidence has only grown.
Dicksboro haven’t exactly flown in under the radar either, yet there is a feeling growing that this O’Loughlin’s team may be a little too strong.
A lot of the panel were a part of the Féile winning team of 2011 and have experienced success while progressing through the ranks.
Down the middle O’Loughlin’s may have a slight height advantage. Size will help in a gritty encounter.
Dicksboro were on the wrong side of a final in such conditions back in 2012, when they lost to James Stephens on one of the most miserable days of the year.
Again, that Village side was one who had known success from the Féile grade all the way up to minor. This O’Loughlin’s team is another who knows how to win.
The ’Boro are a club with a lofty reputation at underage level in Kilkenny. Year in and year out their minor teams are within touching distance of championship victory.
Their free-flowing brand of hurling dazzled during the Summer months, but it’s hard to see them deploying it easily this weekend against O’Loughlin’s.
Verdict: O’Loughlin Gaels
Dicksboro - John Hanrick, Richard Stapleton, Cian Butler, Evan Carroll, Robert Crotty, Jim Dollard, John Manogue, Aidan Nolan, Ronan Butler, Conor Doheny, Travis Fahey, Liam Kennedy, Shane O’Gorman, Alan Phelan, Billy Rowe, Jamie Byrne, Adam Clifford, Kieran Dunne, Conor Fitzpatrick, Oisin Gough, Chris Kavanagh, Thomas Kenny, Edward Moylan, Corey Cahill, Andrew Gaffney, Dara Lynch, Robbie Murphy, Brian Power, Kieran Ryan, David Ryan, Shane Stapleton, Bill Sheehan. Selectors: Jim Kerwick, Sean Moore, David Carroll, John Treacy.
O’Loughlin Gaels - Robbie O’Driscoll, Shane Mahony, Huw Lawlor, Brian Buckley, Jack Lawlor, Robbie Buckley, Gary Bryan, Thomas Gleeson, Cian Loy, Ross Butler, Luke Rafter, Danny Bolger, Shane Maher, Daniel O’Connor, Ben Leydon, Thomas Wadding, Daniel O’Driscoll, Lyndon Brannigan, Eoin Croghan Sean Kiely, Robbie Murphy, Sean Bolger, Jay Leahy, Kevin Rowe, Peter Collins, Ronan Buckley, Tervine Wallace, Eoin Kelly. Selectors: Michael Holohan, James Comerford, Niall Bergin, Martin Comerford.