Richie Hogan...he will lead the Danesfort attack
The ‘teeth-chattering’ final that no one wants to be involved in will head up a busy GAA schedule in Kilkenny this weekend.
The senior hurling relegation final, the game that jangles the nerves like no other because of the serious consequences for the losers, will be played on Saturday.
Hardy veterans and survivors in six such finals, Fenians (Johnstown) will be fighting for their senior lives again when they face Danesfort in Palmerstown (4.15pm).
Led by J.J. Delaney, an eight-times All-Ireland medal winner and seven-times All-Star, the Fenians have seen off a litany of clubs as they avoided the drop back to the intermediate grade.
The North Kilkenny outfit attained senior status when they won the junior championship - there was no intermediate championship then -in 1968.
They were a powerhouse at the time and roared on to win the senior title on five occasions between 1970 and 1977.
However, since the start of the Millennium they have struggled somewhat and have contested this final more times than another other club.
As the Fenians survived, Clara (2000), John Lockes (2001), Glenmore (2005), St Lachtain’s (2010), Graigue-Ballycallan (2013) and Tullaroan (2014) all fell through the trapdoor and down a grade.
The nerves really take over in these games, and the atmosphere in dressing-rooms is always more edgy than for any other match, but the Fenians have proved to be champion survivors.
They will need their wits about them against the Richie Hogan led Danesfort, who have struggled this season.
But knowing the reputation of the Fenians, it would be a mistake to think this might be the ‘Last Waltz’ for them.
Danesfort earned senior status in 2011 when they won the intermediate title. They contested the senior relegation final in 2012 when they beat Dunnamaggin.
The intermediate relegation final is also down for decision on Saturday, with Conahy Shamrocks and Young Irelands (Gowran) battling to avoid the drop back to the junior grade.
Nowlan Park will feature a compelling three game programme on Sunday (12.45pm start).
Once mighty Mooncoin and Barrow Rangers (Paulstown) kick start the action in the junior hurling championship semi-final.
They are fighting for a place in the final against John Lockes (Callan) the following Sunday.
This will be followed by two intermediate hurling semi-finals.
The action here will commence with the clash between Southern neighbours, Tullogher Rosbercon and current All-Ireland club champions, Glenmore.
Two of the biggest names in Kilkenny hurling, Tullaroan and Carrickshock will go head-to-head in the second semi.
Tullaroan are chasing the league/championship double, and are the only unbeaten team in the top two divisions this season.
The Walshs, all six of them (brothers and cousins) have been powerful, with Kilkenny star, Padraig Walsh the main man throughout.
Carrickshock showed season high form when easing past limited Lisdowney in the quarter-final.
They will have to rise things again if they are to match Tullaroan and qualify for the final, which will be played in two weeks time.
Both Tullogher and Glenmore were brought to replays in the quarter-finals.
Tullogher eventually saw off Thomastown, while Glenmore needed extra time in the replay to beat St Patrick’s, and still there was only one point in it at the finish.
This pair clashed in the Shield final a few weeks ago when 15 points from Alan Murphy shaded things for the Glen’ (1-24 to 2-10).
Since then his brother, Eoin, the Kilkenny senior goalie, has joined the attack after shaking off an ankle injury and he has added fair firepower.
Therein lies the most serious threat for Tullogher! If they offer chances to the Murphys their season will be over.
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