The break in the senior and intermediate hurling leagues will be a mixed blessing to clubs. Some have built great momentum since the start and would dearly wish to continue playing, writes Nickey Brennan.
For others, though, the break will come as a blessing. Performances have been disappointing and a couple of weeks away from league action may well help to refocus the team.
In Group A of the senior, O’Loughlin Gaels sit at the top with their victory over Ballyhale Shamrocks the stand-out result. Close behind are Ballyhale Shamrocks and Carrickshock.
Shamrocks got back to winning ways with a big win over Carrickshock. The former champions will have a big say in the destination of the Tom Walsh Cup. Carrickshock continues to struggle with injuries.
They need every player available if they are to win a title they felt they left behind last year.
Champions Clara have injury problems but they are slowly getting back to full strength. A big win over St Martin’s may have been their first victory, but it sent out a clear signal that they are still a formidable side.
Tullaroan is without and have yet to play Shamrocks and Clara. It will be tough for the famous club.
The Rower-Inistioge coped comfortably with the senior grade and deservedly head Group B. Confidence will be sky-high after three wins. They have to play the two bottom sides, Fenians and Erin’s Own.
City neighbours James Stephens and Dicksboro come next in Group B but both gmust improve despite the two wins. Danesfort is unlucky to have just two points, while Erin’s Own’s only two points were secured against the bottom side Fenians.
It is already looking like a difficult year for the Castlecomer and Johnstown sides.
Group A in the intermediate league is tight with four teams on four points. Predicting the final positions is impossible as this group is deliverin interesting results.
Capable of moving
Tullogher Rosbercon is still capable of moving up the table, while Glenmore is badly hampered by the loss of key forward Ger Aylward. They also lost Eoin Murphy to concussion last weekend against Conahy Shamrocks.
Mullinavat is the only intermediate side with full points. They look the team to beat. They are a physical imposing side which is still high on confidence following last year’s under-21 ‘A’ success.
Last year’s junior champions, Lisdowney will be happy to have four points after two games, with Emeralds and St Lachtain’s in close pursuit. Former senior sides Graigue Ballycallan and Dunamaggin have found the going tough. The former has been badly hampered with injuries. They will be far more competitive when the injured players return.
Dunamaggin have no points and face difficult games in the final two rounds against Graigue Ballycallan and Lisdowney.
The break in league action will signal an exodus of some players to the US for the Summer. The impact of that exodus could well determine the outcome of the final two rounds of senior and intermediate league games.
While the young men will manage to get game time with a club in the US, the reality is that when they return to this country they are not on a par with the rest of their club colleagues in terms of fitness and hurling sharpness.
These travels are all part of young men’s lives nowadays but for some clubs their absence can ultimately dictate how their year will pan out.
The All-County junior hurling League has reached the quarter-final stages with only Bennettsbridge and Kilmacow on full points.
The four quarter-finals will be played on Friday evening, but already Bennettsbridge is looking the team to beat at junior level this year.