The contenders to win the Clean Ireland Recycling County Senior Hurling Championship are preparing this week to launch their respective assaults on the quarter-finals of the competition.
Semple Stadium will host all four quarter-final clashes on September 26th-27th and there is nothing like Thurles to capture the imagination of ambitious players up and down the county.
Right now defending champions Thurles Sarsfields lead the betting at a startling 5/6. Such a price may initially appear a little on the extreme side, but given the experience of the Sars and their capacity to inflict a variety of damage it is hardly surprising. Essentially, it will take a superb effort to stop the Sarsfields landing a 34th title. Indeed, Thurles are chasing a fifth title in seven years. Good going.
At a price of 10/3 to win Dan Breen the men from Drom & Inch launch this weekend’s action when they face north champions Kildangan on Saturday, September 26th in Semple Stadium, Thurles at 2pm.
Drom & Inch, who recently tweaked their management team, are due the utmost respect, especially with Liam Sheedy on board.
For their part Kildangan have hurled terrifically well this year. The campaign of Dan Hackett’s men featured a notable win over Thurles Sarsfields and a slick campaign in the north. Galway man Seán Treacy is coaching the side who will be without the suspended Willie Connors for this one. Make sure to time your landing well in Semple Stadium on Saturday - this contest could be an absolute cracker.
In the second part of Saturday’s double header west champions Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill will take on Kilruane MacDonagh’s (3.30pm). Éire Óg will need to be mindful of the threat posed by Liam O’Shea’s Kilruane. A mixed north campaign is not representative of Kilruane’s true ability. Éire Óg, however, are a more than capable team in their own right. Indeed, this one could come down to one simple break of a ball.
On Sunday, September 27th the clash between Portroe and Nenagh Éire Óg will form the first part of a second double header in Semple Stadium, Thurles (throw-in 2pm).
The lazy-minded will pick out Nenagh Éire Óg as potential winners here. Portroe, however, are a model for every club in the county. Indeed, Éire Óg have failed to beat Portroe in their last three meetings.
Finally, the tie of the round takes place at 3.30pm on Sunday when Thurles Sarsfields face Clonoulty-Rossmore. Clonoulty-Rossmore have not won the county title since 1997, but each and every year they are a significant contender. Clonoulty are expertly guided by Holycross-Ballycahill’s Michael Ferncombe and although they limped out of the west championship following a defeat suffered at the hands of Knockavilla Kickhams you can be sure that nothing can or will be taken for granted here.
John O’Keeffe is ruled out of his one due to suspension - as a leader and top class hurler O’Keeffe represents a huge loss, especially against a Thurles Sarsfields team who carved open Mullinahone at will at Leahy Park, Cashel in the last sixteen.
In the event of a draw extra-time time will be played in all games.