The decisive part of the club hurling season in Kilkenny flashed in after the unexpected appearance in the All-Ireland senior final, but it is all but ready to fold up now after a short few weeks of sustained action.
That’s the GAA of today. The main part of the summer is dominated by the inter-county scene.
Club competitions are packed into the back end of the summer and into early autumn.
Everything is a rush. The most meaningful part of the season for clubs is condensed, and the conclusions of the leagues and championships are rush, rush affairs.
The sad thing is, there isn’t going to be any change for the better in the years ahead.
In fact , concern expressed at the County Board meeting on Monday night highlighted moves that are churning away in the background to cram all GAA club competitions - local, provincial and national - into the one calendar year.
Inevitably that would tighten up club schedules within individual counties even more.
Clubs are already asking what’s going on?
How are they expected to continue to foster talent if their season continues as a ‘stop start’ affair at one end and then a ‘rush, rush’ affair at the other.
Kilkenny made adjustments to the way their junior, intermediate and senior leagues and championships were run this year.
Still there was a huge mid-season break followed by a mad dash to get things over and done with in order to meet Leinster club championship deadlines.
On Sunday the first of the three main county finals will be played.
Conahy Shamrocks play O’Loughlin Gaels in the junior hurling final in UPMC Nowlan Park (4pm).
The following week the senior and intermediate finals will be played.
That will be it, more or less, for the season.
Okay, the minor, under-19 and 21 championships have still to run their course, but a big part of the season is done and dusted when the adult competitions are completed.
The Conahy Shamrocks versus O’Loughlin’s junior final should be a most interesting affair.
Whatever the result, Conahy, will go forward to represent the county in the Leinster championship because a second team from a club - like this O’Loughlin’s team - cannot do so.
Conahy didn’t see themselves in this position at the start of the season. Now they have created a great opportunity with the possibility of winning a third junior championship there.
The club won this title previously in 1976 and 2007, which they followed with success in the All-Ireland club championship.
Team captain James Bergin, Davy Healy, Donal Brennan, Kieran Mooney, Ed Delaney, John Mullen and company can’t lost.
Whatever the outcome of the match, they will be involved in meaningful hurling the following week in Leinster.
O’Loughlin’s played a cracking semi-final against Barrow Rangers (Paulstown) when both sides simply let rip. They produced a match that thrilled from start to finish.
Barry Lawlor, Evan Walsh, Conor Kelly, John Doyle, Gary Kelly!
Daniel O’Connell, Sammy Johnston and the rest can pack a fair punch, and second club team or not, they can be crowned kings of the junior grade.
The feel good factor generated by the win over Barrow Ranger will have done great things for O’Loughlin’s. Conahy take note
The second match on the bill at UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday is the senior semi-final between O’Loughlin’s and champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks.
They are battling for a place in the final against James Stephens, which will be played the following Sunday.
Shamrocks dug out a victory over gutsy Clara at the weekend, while O’Loughlin’s looked more assured when seeing off improving Mullinavat.
The ‘TJ Reid’ factor can be huge in this one, as it can in most matches.
The champions still look the team to beat. Michael Fennelly is back, which is a huge boost for them and bad news for the rest.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.