06 Oct 2022

Preview-Shamrocks still the team to beat in race for senior glory

History in the making: The Ballyhale club will be looking to join Tullaroan at the top of the county hurling roll of honour but a hectic few weeks of action lie in wait

Preview-Shamrocks still the team to beat in race for senior glory

Representatives from all 12 clubs that will take part in the upcoming St Canices Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship. The competition will run over the next few weeks until the county final .

The shadow boxing is at an end as the Kilkenny senior hurling championship kicks into gear this weekend.

After five league rounds, Dicksboro, Clara, Tullaroan and Bennettsbridge have assured themselves of Quarter-Final spots while the rest are hoping to join them .

All eyes will be on Shamrocks as they aim to win a fifth consecutive title but there are many challengers to their throne.

League Final

The weekend’s senior action gets underway early on Saturday when Bennettsbridge and Tullaroan meet in UPMC Nowlan Park at 1pm.

A big crowd is expected to descend on Kilkenny HQ for a meeting between two of the counties most iconic clubs.

Bennettsbridge come into the final as the holders and favourites after winning all of their league games in the so called group of death.

The Bridge learned this week of the news that their current boss Willie Maher is off to manage the Laois senior hurlers in 2023 so it will be interesting to see how that effects them.

Tullaroan were only a point off reaching last year’s county final so making a league final will mark another big step for them in their development and after Bennettsbridge fell to Shamrocks a week after beating Clara in last year’s final, their attention may be more on the following week.

Tullaroan’s need might just be a little greater so they are given the verdict to come through.

Shield Final

Clara and Dicksboro face off in the Shield Final and it will be noteworthy to see what teams are selected for this one and if either team decides to rest players.

Despite losing their opening league game, it’s been a good few weeks for the Boro as they’ve brought through a number of talented youngsters including Liam Moore, Harry Shine and Padraig Moylan.

That influx of youth will be tested against a Clara side who also only lost once in the league and they too have been building nicely.

With neither team expected to be at full throttle it’s a tough one to predict but Dicksboro are fancied to continue their winning run.

Championship Round One

While there’s no element of jeopardy in the league finals, the opposite is true of the Round 1 Championship games and the meeting of O’Loughlin Gaels and Mullinavat in Ballyhale looks a fascinating one.

After going down narrowly in last year’s county final, the city side will be favourites but they will need to be on their guard.

The strength in depth of the O’Loughlin’s panel will also be tested after Robbie Buckley was ruled out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury but if Mikey Butler and Huw Lawlor can shut down the threat of John Walsh, they will be confident Paddy Deegan can do enough damage down the other end to see them through.

The other tie sees Shamrocks meet Glenmore in a game that will be screened live on TG4 on Sunday.

As they tend to do Shamrocks rather sleepwalked through a lot of the league but with news of Colin Fennelly and more surprisingly Joey Holden both back for the duration of the Kilkenny campaign, they will be hard stopped.

This will be quite the welcome to the senior championship for Glenmore but in the Murphy’s, Aylwards, Liam Hennessy and Ian Byrne, they have players that can do damage.

Impossible to look past Shamrocks here though and with Eoin Cody, TJ Reid and Adrian Mullen all firing, they should prevail to the next round.

Relegation Semi-Finals/C’ship Round 1

The standout team in relegation are James Stephens where four defeats from their five league games sees them in a battle to stay up.

The Village won’t be panicking though as they’ve been in this position before and they competed quite well in a lot of the games.

The lack of firepower up front may be a bit of concern where a lot is expected of Eoin Guilfoyle with Cian Kenny playing in a much deeper role this year.

They do have Brian Cody in with them as selector though and he is sure to bang a tune out of his home club.

Lisdowney are the Village’s opponents on Sunday and they certainly won’t fear them.

Lisdowney drew with James Stephens in last year’s league but they themselves have struggled in the early part of the year with the absence of David O’Carroll not helping.

It will be close but James Stephens have enough about them to get their championship campaign back on track.

The other relegation semi-final sees Castlecomer and Graigue Ballycallan meet in Freshford.

It’s been a nightmare year for Graigue Ballycallan thus far with the loss of a number of players taking it’s toll.

A lot will be expected of Billy and Sean Ryan when they meet an Erin’s Own team that only survived in the last game against Rower-Inistioge last year.

Comer’s graph appears to be more upward than their opposition though and they can grab a win here.

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