While it appears unlikely that a candidate to claim Dan Breen will emerge from the Hibernian Inn North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championships the division does promise to serve up some cracking games in this weekend’s quarter-finals.
First up on Saturday evening in Dolla (6.30pm) comes the clash of the Templederry Kenyons and Kildangan.
Following a terrific semi-final between the sides in 2011, which Kildangan won by a point, a lot was expected of both teams in 2012.
Both, however, failed to play to their potential and will be eager to make the last four at the very least this season. Indeed, Kildangan were hotly fancied prior to the launch of this year’s championship, but their form has been patchy. Kildangan drew against Éire Óg when they should have lost, lost to Portroe, beat Moneygall and then saw off Kilruane (1-18 to 1-13) in a winner-takes-all clash. We suspect that the performance against Kilruane says more about what Séamus Gleeson’s Kildangan side are capable of as opposed to that which went before.
Meanwhile Templederry annihilated Borrisokane (5-28 to 0-5) and beat Lorrha by ten points to set up an interesting final group game against Borris-Ileigh. That game finished in a draw (2-15 to 1-18), but it is telling to note that the Kenyons fired home a late goal to earn that draw. The significance of this is that when Templederry met Borris-Ileigh last year they collapsed. So, we expect Templederry to be much better this year.
There will be plenty of good hurlers on show in this one, a game we fancy Kildangan to marginally win.
Three attractive North Tipperary quarter-finals take place on Sunday - first up is Silvermines against Portroe in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh (2pm).
Paddy Moore’s Silvermines side have been absolutely terrific thus far. The ‘Mines hammered Burgess (3-18 to 0-15) and then saw off Toomevara (3-14 to 2-10) to book their place in the quarter-finals. The ‘Mines did ship a reasonably distressing defeat to Roscrea (2-9 to 4-11), but their minds did not look on the job that evening in Moneygall. This time you can expect the ‘Mines to be hopping off the ground and Jason Forde is one that will definitely take watching.
Portroe slipped up when drawing with Moneygall (1-14 to 0-17) and struggled for a large portion of their clash with Kilruane (Port won that encounter 2-14 to 0-18, but were held scoreless for 28 minutes of the second half), but they earned a fine win over Kildangan (3-13 to 0-17) and should have beaten Éire Óg (0-13 to 1-10).
Michael Sheedy (broken finger) is a huge loss to Portroe at centre-forward, but with Jimmy Creamer playing so well in the middle of the field and with the Portroe half-back line in flying form we expect John Sheedy’s defending champions to progress to the last four.
The clash between Roscrea and Borris-Ileigh in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Sunday at 3.30pm promises to be a serious physical confrontation.
Roscrea had goalkeeper Daryl Ryan to thank for a man of the match display against Toome in their opening win of the campaign (0-15 to 2-8) and although John Carroll’s men then lost to Burgess Roscrea took the ‘Mines apart (4-11 to 2-9) to win their group and earn a quarter-final seeding.
Michael Ferncombe’s Borris-Ileigh side saw off Borrisokane (2-25 to 0-9) and Lorrha (1-19 to 1-6) before drawing with Templederry (1-18 to 2-15) in the group phase and missed out on top spot in their group on scoring difference. Brendan Maher has been absolutely immense for Borris-Ileigh, but most critically Borris-Ileigh now have an inside forward of real substance in the shape of Kildare man Conor Kenny.
Roscrea will present Borris-Ileigh with plenty of problems, but we expect Borris-Ileigh to edge this one. Indeed, it will be very hard to beat a highly-motivated Borris-Ileigh team this year.
On Sunday evening age-old rivals Nenagh Éire Óg and Toomevara meet in Dolla (6.30pm).
Toome have struggled thus far to find their form. Tony Delaney’s side lost their opening game against Roscrea (2-8 to 0-15) before suffering another defeat to Silvermines (2-10 to 3-14), but both of those encounters featured a significant wide count and a plethora of spurned goal-scoring opportunities. In their final group game Toome found some form against Burgess (2-17 to 0-10) before beating Lorrha (2-17 to 1-11) in a quarter-final play-off.
Éire Óg have turned plenty of heads this year.
Manager Liam Heffernan has placed his trust in several young players who have rewarded the Blues with some terrific performances. Nenagh should have beaten Kildangan in their opening game, but coughed up a late equalising goal (0-17 to 1-14) before beating Moneygall (5-12 to 0-9). Éire Óg then beat Kilruane (0-21 to 0-15) before drawing with Portroe (1-10 to 0-13) in their final group game. Nenagh were fortunate to earn a share of the points in the clash with Portroe and will approach this quarter-final wondering where the true value of their form lies. Éire Óg’s most impressive display, for instance, was against Moneygall when they won by 18 points, but it was instructive to note that the Éire Óg goalkeeper Michael McNamara was named man of the match making a series of fine saves.
Some of Éire Óg’s younger players have proven a joy to watch this year, but there is a sense that with Toome finding their form and the influential Joey McLoughney returning from injury that a young Nenagh Éire Óg side will struggle to compete with Toomevara - Tony Delaney’s men to progress to the semi-finals.