The good weather is proving a big help to clubs as the local championships head for an exciting finale. The weather may play a big part in deciding all three adult championships.
While every team wants dry weather and a solid surface, not every side can cope with wet and damp conditions. The senior hurling quarter-finals on Sunday will see big attendances at all games. Reigning champions Ballyhale Shamrocks remain the favourites, but the news that Michael Fennelly may be injured would be a big blow.
Opponents O’Loughlin Gaels required a second game to defeat Tullaroan, but that extra outing will do the players no harm at all. This quarter-final may be a lot closer than many think but the Shamrocks will still be expected to reach the semi-finals.
Erin’s Own inflicted a rare defeat on their opponents, Clara earlier in the league but since that game the sides have enjoyed contrasting fortunes. Clara is the form team but the Castlecomer boys will be buoyed by their first round victory over Graigue-Ballycallan, plus a last round league win over Ballyhale Shamrocks.
I expect Erin’s Own to provide a stiff challenge, with victory a real possibility. The momentum, though, is with Clara. I expect them to make the semi-finals.
Dicksboro are the championship dark-horses. The city side is improving with each outing, but they must step up another couple of notches against Carrickshock. If the ’Shock is to win a title with the current crop, it needs to be this year.
On-going injuries to Michael Rice are frustrating, but they should still have too much attacking power for the ’Boro.
The final tie sees James Stephens playing St Martin’s. The Village will need big performances from Jackie Tyrrell and Eoin Larkin. James Stephens will start as favourites but this is one quarter-final where I think the underdog just might come out on top, provided they can contain Tyrrell and Larkin.
The results of three of the intermediate quarter-finals went as expected with the remaining tie between the Emeralds and St Lachtain’s providing the major surprise of the weekend. Emeralds were coasting in the league until the final two rounds when they lost to Mullinavat and the Rower Inistioge.
Those defeats saw the side slip into relegation territory. Now a semi-final place has been secured with victories over Young Irelands and St Lachtain’s.
Hard work and honest endeavour was at the heart of the Urlingford side’s deserved success over their neighbours. An 11 point defeat is a big blow to Lachtain’s.
The efforts of Walter Walsh were not enough to stop the St Patrick’s bandwagon moving to the semis at the expense of Tullogher Rosbercon. The winners remain on course to reach a second consecutive final.
Dunnamaggin’s six-point success over Mullinavat was deserved but improvements will be needed. The best game saw the Rower Inistioge defeat Thomastown. The winners pulling ahead in the closing stages.
The junior championship is also heading for an exciting finish. The quarter-final results went as expected. Lisdowney, Bennettsbridge and James Stephens scored victories while the fourth semi-finalist saw Barrow Rangers secure a narrow win over Blacks and Whites.
The good weather brings out the best in players so let’s hope the elements remain kind to all. Nature could yet play a big part in the destination of all three hurling championship titles.