Thirty two senior hurling teams in Tipperary have been whittled down to just four in the race for the Clean Ireland Recycling County Senior hurling championship.
Yes, Semple Stadium, Thurles plays host to the semi-finals on Sunday afternoon next - an attractive double bill following the victory of Kildangan over Clonoulty Rossmore last Saturday for the remaining spot on the ticket.
Patrons will see Loughmore Castleiney pitted against Borris-Ileigh, while the only surviving divisional champion Kildangan will take on their neighbours Nenagh Eire Og. There will definitely be a northern representative in the decider then and Loughmore Castleiney will also definitely be represented on final day - their team of 1988 will be feted on the day, and may have more than a passing interest in the decider too.
The clash between Borris-Ileigh and Loughmore Castleiney will be an interesting one to say the least. Borris’ have not been in a semi-final since 1988 - the year Loughmore Castleiney won the title at their expense after a replay. Some of the same names crop again in the current bunches - Stapletons, Kenny’s, Ryan’s and Maher’s on the norths side, McGrath’s , Treacy’s and Sweeney’s for the mid men.
This game is certainly being talked up and while a much more high tempo performance is expected of Loughmore Castleiney lads who have not been at their best so far this season, the big challenge for Borris-Ieligh will be to bring a level of consistency to their game that has been lacking in recent years.
Neither side will want for motivationand while the favourites in many peoples eyes are probably in the other side of the draw, there is a real chance for these two sleeping giants to make County Final Day special for themselves.
There are just nine titles held by the four remaining clubs with Borris’ far in front with six of those - 1949, ‘50, ‘53, ‘81, ‘83 and ‘86. Loughmore Castleiney come second with two titles 1988 and 2007, while Nenagh Eire Og have one title from 1995.
Speaking of the clash of giant killers Nenagh Eire Og and Kildangan, who will emerge here? Kildangan looked impressive in the replay against Clonoulty Rossmore with a pacey attack, solid defence and industrious midfield causing many many headaches for the under par west men. The extra game certainly improved them and they will relish the lush and expansive sward of Semple Stadium on Sunday. Will, Nenagh Eire Og?
Nobody can argue with their calibre and the fact that they have slain mighty dragons in the form of holders Sarsfields and Drom-Inch, adds to their credentials quite substantially. They have progressed steadily and will perhaps feel that they have a lucky general on the sideline - Liam Heffernan was Manager when they won the title in 1995 and he is back at the helm again this season. They also have more experience than the opposition, but then Kildangan’s youthful exuberance is no disadvantage either.
The games get underway at 3:30pm and 5:00pm and should be full value for the entrance fee.