Michael Fennelly made a dramatic return for Shamrocks on Sunday and helped them beat champions, Dicksboro
The vagaries of fortune threw together an intoxicating confluence of the expected and unexpected, and a so called Kilkenny ‘minnow’ will end up celebrating.
Last week the luck, or otherwise, in the draws for the county’s premier sporting event, the senior hurling championship, guaranteed a giant would fall.
Defending champions, Dicksboro, did.
And now the draws for the semi-finals will guarantee another layer of culling.
Title favourites Shamrocks Ballyhale have been pitted against either League champions, James Stephens or ever improving Erin’s Own (Castlecomer), who clash in a delayed quarter-final tie on Saturday.
Whatever way results pan out in that side of the draw, another of the fancied teams will bite the dust.
All of which is good news for long odds picks, Bennettsbridge and Clara, on the other side.
One of them will end up in the county final on Sunday, October 28.
Neither was among the hot fancies at the start of the season, but one of them will earn a crack at adding to their Walsh Cup take.
What a fairytale it would be for former giants, Bennettsbridge, if it came to pass. The ’Bridge are one of the big, big names in Kilkenny club hurling with a hefty 12 senior titles to their credit.
Their last success was way back in 1971 when they beat Fenians (Johnstown) by 3-10 to 1-7 in the county final. Among the heroes in the green and gold colours that day were Noel Skehan, Jim Treacy, Paddy Moran, John McGovern and Pat Lalor.
The club’s last appearance in the decider was in 1974, but Fenians beat them.
Clara, with three senior titles to their credit, would be a long way from being the most decorated of the remaining runners. They last contested the final in 2015 when they beat O’Loughlin Gaels.
The draw has thrown open the door for either Bennettsbridge or Clara to be part of county final day, and you can be sure they will make the best of the opportunity presented.
Meanwhile, Shamrocks new manager and former great, Henry Shefflin, praised his charges for their strong winning effort in the quarter-final against Dicksboro.
“They played well and put up a good score,” he said following Sunday’s success. “We were very hungry for it.
“We couldn’t have asked for more. They have been training well, and they are putting in a serious effort. Look, it’s about the work-rate, the effort. We were hungry.
“We had to be against very good county champions, Dicksboro.”
But it was back to basics again, he insisted: “That was one game. The semi-final is another. There have been so many upsets this season you have to be very, very careful.”
Dicksboro manager, Mark Dowling offered no excuses and felt Shamrocks were the better team on the day.
“There is no shame in losing to a fine team like Shamrocks,” he said.
“After 10 minutes we were probably on the back foot, but we got ahead by half time and we kept the contest alive right to the finish.”
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