By Noel Dundon
The MacLochlainn Roadmarkings Mid Senior hurling championship final takes place in Templetuohy on Sunday evening next and will see the first ever decider clash of favourites Drom-Inch and Loughmore Castleiney. Throw-in 7:00pm.
An eagerly awaited contest, this game is being billed as a potential cracker with both teams having impressed at different stages during the course of the championship so far.
Curiously though, while Loughmore Castleiney have won all their games in 2011, it is the Drom-Inch lads who take the favourites tag with them, eventhough they lost their first round tie to JK Brackens.
This will be an historic occasion as it will be the first time in the history of Moyne –Templetuohy GAA Club to host a Mid Senior Hurling Final.
The fantastic facilities on the periphery of the division - the club is the envy of many - will bring a sense of occasion and uniqueness to the final.
The club is to be credited for the wonderful advancements made in recent years with the provision of a second pitch, scoreboard, floodlights, 700 seater stand, dressingrooms, parking area etc.
While many feel that this final could be a shootout between Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan, Gaels would do well to remember that neither side is a one man operation.
In fact, both teams are very well balanced with significant attacking acumen and defensive stoutness boasted.
Drom-Inch will be hoping to get performances from the likes of Seamus and David Butler, James Woodlock, Paddy Kennedy, Johnny Ryan, Eamon Buckley,and keeper Damien Young.
But, even if they are not on song on the night, there are plenty of others to step up to the mark.
They have concerns at full back though with Paul Stapleton out having broken a thumb recently. It is likely that Michael Costelloe will switch in to man the number three berth in his absence.
Going for their fourth Mid title since 2006, and their sixth title in total, the Drom Inch management team of Teddy Kennedy, Martin Butler and Andy Bourke, alongside Coach Sean Prendergast of Lismore, will be hoping that Captain Seamus Callanan can lift the silverware and ignite their county championship ambitions.
Loughmore Captain Tommy Long will have similar ambitions and eventhough the club won the Munster club championship in 2007, they have to go back to 2004 for their last divisional title. Noel Morris, Declan Laffan and Ned Ryan - three men who know all about winning titles - will be drawing on all their experience to help deliver an 11th Mid title for the club and they will be putting much of their faith in the clubs first ever Allstar, Noel McGrath. Last years Young Hurler of the Year will take some watching but throw in the likes of Liam McGrath, Evan Sweeney, Liam Treacy, James Egan, Ciaran McGrath, Aidan McGrath, Eddie Connolly, Derek Bourke - the list goes on and on.
No mention yet of David Kennedy - where will he line out if he is receoved sufficiently enough after having back trouble?
Will Micheal Webster get back from injury? With multiple choices for their starting line-up, it will be intriguing to see which boxes are ticked by the management.
It is interesting to note that while punters may point to Drom-Inch’s potent attack as being a major source of power for them - they have been averaging 2-19 in the championship so far - they have been outdone by the sharp shooters from Loughmore Castleiney who have bagged an average of 3-20 in their four championship games so far.
Now, 2-19 would win a lot of games, but 3-20 would win most games. So, the destination of the title for 2011 could well come down to whichever team holds out best in defence.
And, funny enough, Drom-Inch have conceeded an everage of 1-10 in their five games, while Loughmore Castleiney have given away an average of 1-12.
It can be said that these stats count for nothing and maybe they don’t but at the same time it gives some indication of where the result could fall. Could this final be any tighter?
It will be all roads leading to Templetuohy then on Sunday evening - Board officers are predicting the biggest attendance at the divisional final in years.
Make sure you are one of them.