Tipp. Eyes On First Semi-Final

Round Two of the County championship was to find eight qualifiers to provide four matches at the third stage. It had to be content with seven as no South opponents had been found to face J.K. Brackens. Carrick Swans’ appeal against eviction from their divisional semi-final left the projected Davins v Mullinahone decider unplayed and Swans’ case to be heard at County level this midweek. Neither North nor West final went against strong presumption - Toomevara and Clonoulty had good margins at Nenagh and Dundrum. At the lesser level of O’Riain Cup action relief was the prize for Moycarkey and Knockavilla in quarter final games against Ballingarry and Borrisokane.

Round Two of the County championship was to find eight qualifiers to provide four matches at the third stage. It had to be content with seven as no South opponents had been found to face J.K. Brackens. Carrick Swans’ appeal against eviction from their divisional semi-final left the projected Davins v Mullinahone decider unplayed and Swans’ case to be heard at County level this midweek. Neither North nor West final went against strong presumption - Toomevara and Clonoulty had good margins at Nenagh and Dundrum. At the lesser level of O’Riain Cup action relief was the prize for Moycarkey and Knockavilla in quarter final games against Ballingarry and Borrisokane.

But first - as they say on the radio bulletins, All-Ireland semi-finals are coming up and Tipp. interest is huge. It is also dual in code after the minor footballers lived up to Munster promise and won at Portlaoise on Monday. They’ll follow the hurlers into Croke Park and do so with an escalating profile on the back of the conquest of Meath. Minors with sticks in hand are familiar enough on H.Q. bills but here’s a squad with hand and foot skills and obvious team spirit. Another step will put them into real national prominence. Well done on what’s been achieved thus far.

The outcome of Kilkenny v Waterford will add to speculation about the following Sunday. It’s good to have an advance viewing of prospective All-Ireland rivals. One takes nothing for granted in that regard even if Tipp. will be favourites against Dublin, as the Cats have to be over the Decies. The 2008 final saw a fearful hammering - twenty three points for a Waterford who fielded a more experienced side than now wears their colours, Ken McGrath and Dan Shanahan the main departures in the meantime. Both sides have done a bit of bouncing back of late, Kilkenny sharply reversing League Final form against Dublin, Waterford regaining pride against Galway after their Leeside sufferings at our hands. The latter result has been somewhat queried on the grounds of Galway sluggishness but it must send Fitzgerald’s men out with resolve to continue the revival. Kilkenny will, of course, be vastly different from the self doubting Tribesmen - who ever saw the Cats bothered with negativity of attitude? They have more or less got back to full availability in personnel. Of special interest will be the degree of fitness regained by Henry Shefflin. The Leinster final didn’t really demand full exertion by the “King” as early command was secured. Tommy Walsh looked fully himself and is liable to demonstrate it again.

Cats All Out

Kilkenny have to be in crusading mode and eager to win a “rubber”, two out of three, over Tipp - they’d be no way excited about meeting Dublin. Nor would many neutrals be about such a rematch. Rivalry with Waterford is, of course, pretty strong, especially in the city region of cross river neighbourliness. That ‘08 scoreline was a happy or a hurtful episode, according to affiliation - and one to spur the losers in the direction of retort. For Kilkenny to fall at his hurdle would be worse than losing last year’s final. A severe test lies ahead for the Decies rear line, which was so porous in Cork, if considerably tighter against Galway, who fielded attackers way below the Cats standard of combination and finishing. An early breach would be ominous indeed. We in Tipp. have a choice of preferences about the issue - a Kilkenny defeat would seem to be convenient vis-a-vis September 4th, but to miss out on a third successive clash would be less than ideal. A Dublin victory would render next Sunday academic - perish the thought!

Last weekend’s club menu was full of options, not all of them greatly appealing, to be frank about it. Divisional finals ought to have rated higher than the county fixtures but I turned down both in favour of the Templemore double header with its twin Mid aspects and its proximity. Toomevara and Clonoulty readily lived up to advance impression, so not a lot was missed by an absentee. Seems like Kildangan did decently enough to stay with “Toome” for three quarters or so before Brislane got the solitary goal of the evening and the title-rich side stretched nicely clear to the anticipated finish. Sendings - off always gain attention, especially if a big name is shown red. John O’Brien rates as such. He shared the sanction with Paraic Kelly in the second quarter but it won’t affect him as regards August 14th.

No Shock In West

Clonoulty-Rossmore stayed on the winning track beside the Dundrum lines with vast accumulation of points over “Cappa”. Five in a row is plenty and who’s to say their collecting won’t continue? As is his way, Timmy Hammersley was the prime source of umpires reaching for the flag, and the tricky John O’Neill had the green one aloft in the process of facile command. Local success having become automatic, Clonoulty will be keen on external progress this time. Two other West clubs had something to be happy about. Eire Og, Anacarty, pulled off one of the best results of the County Round in a six points win against Roscrea. Knockavilla banished fear of the relegation trap door by beating Borrisokane in the O’Riain sector. In that context there was also retention of senior status by Moycarkey-Borris in a Cashel game with Ballingarry, a modest year at last yielding something to relish. There’s always next season to base hope upon.

The Saturday programme provided the expected Thurles Sarsfields win over Golden-Kilfeacle. Only one goal was netted but, then, Lar wasn’t on hand! Burgess ended Killenaule’s interest again no surprise on the year’s decline in the South sides standard. Borrisoleigh took the all North tie with Kilruane. Supporters confessed some good fortune in drawing the original hour - they hit altogether better form in the extra period.

Close Clashes

And so to a drizzly Templemore on Sunday afternoon for the Nenagh v Holycross opener - it cleared up nicely for Upperchurch v Portroe. Both contests had enough uncertainty in advance to justify one’s choice - and, fair play to all four, they retained it well to the respective finishes of well fought games. On their showing against Toomevara it appeared that Nenagh had fair potential in ball play and combination but Holycross were sure to give this K.O. game their very best. The Mid boys got a useful uplift on a Liam Dwan lobbed free that got through one and all to be the bases of a one point interim lead. Goals were to be the key lodgments later on. Briefly the tide turned Holycross’ way with a Ferncombe angled drive. They hadn’t time to enjoy it before tall Paddy Murphy was through for a riposte. As tension rose and parity reigned, Eire Og surged clear through sub Morris and Michael Heffernan goals. So a lot of earnest Holycross effort was frustrated with an unflattering deficit on the board. Nenagh may well be a factor.

Satisfaction reigned in Upperchurch-Drombane on Sunday night, one would say. They’d pulled off a very welcome success, considering the loss of at least one third of their regular strength to the dire economic situation. The win against Portroe was certainly hard earned, with level scoring in a goal-less contest raising late excitement among the followers. They’d been without Pat Shortt in some earlier games this year - his availability was crucial now in general play and flag-raising. His brother Owen, centre back Barry and Paul Ryan came good with the scores that mattered near the end. A Darren Gleeson blast for a goal in the dying moments was defied on the line and they were through to future action. Not much of that till Tipp. have taken on Dublin.