Dan Breen Previews:
Friday September 24th
JK Brackens vs Loughmore/Castleiney:
There's little love lost between these two teams as the players will be very familiar with each other through school and county teams and with the prize on offer, it will make it a feisty and fiery contest. The Brackens have been hurling well so far and having pushed county champions Kiladangan all the way in the last round, they will have no fear coming into this game. Loughmore have been on an upward trajectory since losing heavily to Sars in the Mid, and with the return of Evan Sweeney to action, along with a rumoured come back for Liam McGrath, they will probably have enough to scrape into the quarters.
Saturday September 25th
Clonoulty/Rossmore vs Holycross/Ballycahill:
Despite plying their trade in different divisions, there is a derby feel to this game as the neighbouring parishes will be looking to finish the group stages strongly. Clonoulty are in a precarious position after losing to Toome' the last day out and will need to improve vastly to ensure they can maintain their position in second spot. Big players such as Dillon Quirke and the two Hammersley's will need to come to the fore for them if they are to harbour any ambitions at a county title tilt. Holycross will be feeling the pinch after an agonising defeat to an Eoin Kelly special the last day out, and without Bryan O'Mara at the heart of their defence, it's hard to see where the inspiration could come from for this young team.
Toomevara vs Mullinahone:
A fixture akin to some titanic meetings between the sides when they were back in their pomp in the early to mid 2000's, this match should be hotly contested with both needing the win to ensure progress to the knockout stages. The sides last met in a 2019 preliminary quarter-final in Cashel and Mullinahone will probably recall it as a match they threw away rather than lost, as Toome managed to sneak through playing badly. Both teams have improved since then and with the possible return of Kevin McCarthy to the fold for Toome, they should have more about them in the open space of Semple to win and claim top spot.
Thurles Sarsfields vs Upperchurch Drombane:
All the talk around the county is about the rise from the ashes of the Thurles juggernaut, as they have steamrolled all before them so far and sent a warning shot across the county. They seem to have stumbled on the game plan and personnel that is getting the most in terms of performance, and with the Maher's, Paddy Creedon and Stephen Cahill all in top form, they will be fancying their chances against anyone who comes across their path. Denis Maher is an injury concern although they can afford to keep him in reserve here. Upperchurch bounced back well from defeat to Éire Og with a good win against Drom, but with a lot of the scoring burden placed on Padraig Greene, it's hard to see how they can stop the Sars arsenal from doing damage.
Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields
Drom & Inch vs Éire Og Annacarty:
This group has many variables around results in both games and with Éire Og currently sitting in second, they will need to pull another big performance out of the hat. Drom have been far from vintage this year and have been extremely porous at the back, leaking far too many goals in their previous two games and as a result they are disadvantaged massively by their scoring difference. They will need a big win and performance here, but the damage may already be done for them.
Verdict: Drom & Inch
Sunday September 26th
Kiladangan vs Moycarkey-Borris:
The result of this game will be of little consequence to the make up of the group, but both sides will be eager to maintain momentum; or in Moycarkey's case, gain some going into relegation fare. Kiladangan have been extremely functional so far and they seem to still have another gear to click into if needs be, while Moycarkey have put in decent showings but still have a way to go to compete with the big dogs at this level.
Borris-Ileigh vs Nenagh Éire Og:
The clash of the weekend in the club championship is undoubtedly the collision of maroon and sky blue. Losses to Kilruane and wins over Roscrea for both means this will be knockout club action at its finest between two team who will be mightily disappointed to go out at this stage of the competition. Nenagh have been well below their best this year, and missing the likes of Daire Quinn from the back division has been sorely felt, with their defence severely depleted. Borris have been a mixed bag and with Dan McCormack set to be available they have shown more to date and could sneak through by the odd point.
Kilruane MacDonaghs vs Roscrea:
Another meaningless fixture, Kilruane have been in terrific form in beating two title contenders in Nenagh and Borris so far. They have been in class form and some of their younger players have made the step up; Kian O'Kelly, Jerome Cahill and Thomas Cleary all excelling. The clinching of top spot will be welcome with the injury to Niall O'Meara being an undoubted concern for management along with Cian Darcy's suspension, but they will still want to keep up that winning habit. Roscrea are an enigma at this level. Packed with underage talent they can't seem to make that transition of success into the senior team and will want a good showing to take them into the relegation matches.
Verdict: Kilruane MacDonaghs
Seamus Ó’Riain Previews:
Saturday September 24th
Ballina vs Sean Treacys:
Ballina will have had ambitions of at least getting into knockout hurling this year, but performances to date have been well below the standard they are looking to get to. Another club with underage talent coming on stream, they are still too reliant on the likes of Mikey Breen, Steven O'Brien and Eoghan Power for scores but will fancy their chances here. Treacys have been more than competitive in their second year in the grade but defeat against Gortnahoe has them set back now and they will be hoping to avoid the relegation bear pit.
Carrick Swans vs Kiladangan 'B':
The Swan banished the opening day nightmare result against Sars 'B' with a hard fought win against Burgess the last day and this may get them back on course. A team which would have been touted as a potential winner of the championship, returning players will be a boost to them. Kiladangan 'B' have acquitted themselves very well despite a pasting the in the last round but will probably be hoping that Thurles can do them a favour to help them avoid finishing bottom of the group.
Verdict: Carrick Swans
Clonakenny vs Newport:
Newport's opening loss to Templederry looks like it could be put down to a bad day at the office as they bounced back emphatically against Silvermines in round two. They are a team full of pace and attacking flair with Colin Floyd and Pa Ryan inside a real threat to any defence, so they will be looking to continue the form that seen them come close to winning the competition last year. Clonakenny have been steady at this level in recent years, but should be okay to stay up if the expected result goes along form lines in the other game.
Silvermines vs Templederry Kenyons:
Templederry have set the pace in the O'Riain championship so far and seem to have unearthed a real gem in Sean Ryan at full forward as the former Tipp underage player is racking up massive scores this year. The Kenyons have been serial underachievers in the past number of years, and with the talent they have with the Ryan's, Stapleton's and Murray's, they should probably be in the top table. Brian Stapleton is a big concern for them after hobbling off the last day and they will be happy that the job is done with a game to spare. The Mines have been extremely poor to date, and Jason Forde aside, will need to up the efforts but the sight of a Templederry always seems to bring the best out of them.
Verdict: Templederry Kenyons
Gortnahoe-Glengoole vs Killenaule:
The surprise package of the year so far, Gortnahoe have been brilliant in their debut season in the competition. Ronan Teehan has been in excellent scoring form for them, but the team performance around the pitch has been the biggest factor as they seem to be benefit from the bounce that so often follows promoted teams up the grades. Killenaule shrugged off a poor performance against Treacys in round one to beat Ballina the last day, and they will feel they have another few gears to shift into this weekend, with Bubbles coming into the game with confidence after impressing for the footballers last weekend.
Cashel King Cormacs vs Lorrha/Dorrha:
Finalists from last year, Lorrha have one game left to rescue their season and stop the talk of second season syndrome that is on everybody's lips after their first two games. Minus the services of Bonner Maher, the North outfit seem to be missing the energy of last year's efforts and have failed to gain any sort of form thus far. Meanwhile, Cashel have mixed the good with the bad as they look to get the balance right with the newcomers into the fold, and with Ger Browne getting back to full fitness, it should see Cashel through narrowly.
Verdict: Cashel King Cormacs
St Mary's vs Portroe:
An important clash for both sides as the group is still there for all teams to qualify. St Mary's have been impressive to date and finally seem to be coming good on the underage talent coming through the club in the past ten years with county men Seamus Kennedy and Peter McGarry putting in impressive displays. Portroe though, are a tough nut to crack always, and were unlucky the first day out to Cashel, after losing momentum when Justin Conroy received red in the middle of the second half, but they got back on the horse well against Lorrha and will fancy their chances here.
Burgess vs Thurles Sarsfields 'B':
Burgess are a club in turmoil with the results so far and are on the cusp of being in the shake up for successive relegations. They have been hampered massively with the injury to Stephen Murray which is a big issue as the sharpshooter is the main source of scores for them. In contrast, Thurles are looking a nice outside bet to win out the competition and have players of senior pedigree all over the pitch, but Burgess' need for momentum might be greater here and it might prove to be the difference.
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