Semple Stadium, Thurles.
This weekend the quarter-finals in the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship take place in Semple Stadium, Thurles with each contest likely to spark the imagination of GAA people the length and breadth of the county.
On Saturday Éire Óg Anacarty-Donohill and Mullinahone meet in the first part of a double header at Semple Stadium, Thurles (2pm) while Thurles Sarsfields and Kilruane MacDonagh's collide at 3.30pm. Meanwhile on Sunday Clonoulty-Rossmore face Drom & Inch at 6pm while Loughmore-Castleiney and Borris-Ileigh face off at 7.30pm.
Mullinahone v Éire Óg Annacarty
Éire Óg Annacarty must be the favourites here. During the group stage of the county senior hurling championship Éire Óg beat Burgess (2-20 to 1-17) and although Annacarty lost to Killenaule (1-19 to 2-20) the men from the West clinched top spot courtesy of a 1-18 to 0-14 victory over Mullinahone. Meanwhile Mullinahone progressed thanks to a 1-17 to 0-18 win over Burgess and a 2-17 to 1-13 victory against Killenaule.
And, even though Mullinahone’s performance against Killenaule caught the eye Éire Óg Annacarty appear the more accomplished outfit. Indeed, against Annacarty earlier this year Mullinahone were heavily reliant on Seán Curran and struggled to cope against Éire Óg Annacarty. Éire Óg were lively, creative, hard-tackling and had outstanding individuals like Tom Fox and Conor O’Brien to call on.
Mullinahone were certainly competitive during the opening half of that contest and led 0-10 to 1-6 at the break, but following a little adjustment here and there Éire Óg Annacarty took over and won the second period by a significant eight points (0-12 to 0-4).
Éire Óg lost last weekend's Tipperary Co-Op West Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship to Clonoulty-Rossmore (1-9 to 1-14), but Annacarty are still the fancy here.
Verdict: Éire Óg Annacarty.
Thurles Sarsfields v Kilruane MacDonagh’s
Following their form during the group stage of the championship Thurles Sarsfields, the defending champions, are unbackable favourites (1/3) to win a fourth successive Dan Breen Cup. Sarsfields beat Carrick Swan by forty points (5-32 to 0-7), Kilruane MacDonagh’s by seven points (1-25 to 2-15) and Nenagh Éire Óg by sixteen points (4-10 to 2-10) to win group three with something spare. Sarsfields, of course, also recently collected the Mid Tipperary senior hurling title thanks to a single-point final victory of Upperchurch-Drombane.
For their part Kilruane beat Carrick Swans by ten points (3-21 to 1-17) and Nenagh Éire Óg by eleven (3-17 to 0-15) and although the preparation of Liam O’Shea’s men have been hamstrung somewhat by a series of significant injuries the MacDonagh’s should take hope from their performance against Sarsfields earlier this year. Indeed, Kilruane raced into a 2-1 to 0-1 lead at Templemore thanks to strikes from Cian Darcy and Brian O’Meara. Thurles fought back to tie the game by the 22nd minute (0-10 to 2-4) before a Pa Bourke strike presented Sarsfields with a 1-13 to 2-5 interval lead.
Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields.
Clonoulty-Rossmore v Drom & Inch
While some have bemoaned the fact that all four quarter-finals represent a re-match between sides who have already encountered one another during the group stage of this year’s championship the Drom & Inch men may well welcome the opportunity to take another shot at Clonoulty-Rossmore.
Clonoulty-Rossmore drew with Portroe (0-22 to 1-19) and beat Ballina (0-16 to 1-10) during the group stage while Drom & Inch saw off the challenge of Portroe (3-15 to 0-10) and Ballina (3-20 to 2-16), but lost to the West men (1-24 to 2-15). And, the nature of that defeat is sure to irk everyone associated with the proud Drom & Inch club.
At Semple Stadium two goals, which arrived courtesy of Séamus Callanan, helped Drom & Inch into a 2-9 to 1-7 interval advantage. But in the second half when Clonoulty-Rossmore laid down a physical challenge to Drom & Inch the men from the West prevailed with something to spare - Clonoulty-Rossmore scored 0-17 after the break.
Clonoulty-Rossmore hurled with all the fire in that second half, but this weekend’s clash represents a real opportunity for the Drom & Inch lads to reassert themselves as a side of real pedigree.
The West Tipperary champions will, however, carry plenty of confidence into this contest following their win over Éire Óg Annacarty (1-14 to 1-9) in last weekend's divisional final.
Verdict: Drom & Inch.
Borris-Ileigh v Loughmore-Castleiney
The prospect of the last eight clash between Borris-Ileigh and Loughmore-Castleiney is a tantalising one. Borris-Ileigh, of course, were recently crowned North Tipperary senior hurling champions and also beat South champions Carrick Swans in last weekend’s preliminary quarter-finals (3-16 to 2-5), but the match that is most relevant to this contest is the meeting of the sides in opening round of this year’s Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship.
In group one Loughmore-Castleiney beat Upperchurch-Drombane (2-19 to 0-18) and Kiladangan (2-19 to 2-14) while Borris-Ileigh lost to Kiladangan (1-13 to 1-20) before beating Upperchurch-Drombane (4-17 to 0-15) at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
The contest between Borris-Ileigh and Loughmore-Castleiney finished in a draw (1-16 apiece) and although Loughmore will be favoured to win this quarter-final you discount Johnny Kelly’s men at your peril. Against Loughmore Borris-Ileigh fought back from four points down to take the lead only for Ciarán McGrath to score an equalizer in injury time. Loughmore ‘keeper Shane Nolan also made three excellent saves in that game.
Brendan Maher is in terrific form for the Borris-Ileigh men while the Loughmore-Castleiney challenge may hinge on the fitness of John McGrath. Indeed, Borris-Ileigh have an injury headache of their own - influential forward Conor Kenny may well miss out with a nasty hand injury.
ROINN I RELEGATION
A significant Roinn I encounter took place at Newport on Sunday evening when the first round in the series to determine who is relegated to Roinn II took place - Kiladangan faced and beat Ballina 1-20 to 1-10 having led 0-13 to 0-5 at the break. In round two Ballina will take on Burgess in Nenagh on Saturday at 2pm and in round three Burgess meet Kiladangan - the bottom two teams in the group will be relegated to Roinn II.
SÉAMUS Ó RIAIN CUP RELEGATION
Two significant contests also took place on Sunday as the process to determine who gets relegated to the intermediate grade from the Séamus Ó Riain Cup took place - the format here is a round robin with two to make the drop. And, on Sunday Moycarkey-Borris and Ballingarry took very significant steps toward ensuring their survival.
In Templemore Moycarkey-Borris beat Borrisokane 4-16 to 2-14 while at Leahy Park, Cashel Ballingarry fired home four first half goals to beat Knockavilla Kickhams 4-16 to 0-14.
In the second round on Saturday, September 16th Borrisokane face Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams at Borrisoleigh (4pm) and on Sunday, September 17th Ballingarry meet Moycarkey-Borris in Leahy Park, Cashel (1.30pm).