Borris-Ileigh's Niall Kenny pictured celebrating his goal against Loughmore-Castleiney on Sunday.
This weekend a whole host of key games take place in the Tipperary club hurling and football championships - do you agree with our verdicts on the potential winners or will your team be pinning our opinion to the dressing-room wall?
COUNTY SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
The draw was made for the semi-finals of the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship on Monday and duly presented us with a delicious double header fixed to take place at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday, September 24th - neighbours Drom & Inch and Borris-Ileigh collide at 3.30pm while defending champions Thurles Sarsfields take on Éire Óg Annacarty at 5pm.
Drom & Inch v Borris-Ileigh
During the group stage of the county championship Drom & Inch saw off the challenge of Portroe (3-15 to 0-10) and Ballina (3-20 to 2-16), but lost to Clonoulty-Rossmore (1-24 to 2-15) in reasonably distressing circumstances. The nature of that defeat was sure to irk everyone associated with the proud Drom & Inch club and to be fair to the Mid Tipp men they came back fighting. Indeed, on Sunday at Semple Stadium in their respective quarter-final Drom & Inch proved too strong for Clonoulty-Rossmore when beating the West champions 2-26 to 1-14. On this occasion Drom & Inch's hurling and physical application improved exponentially, but they will need every bit of that effort and more when they face form team Borris-Ileigh on Sunday afternoon next.
Borris-Ileigh, of course, were recently crowned North Tipperary senior hurling champions and also beat South champions Carrick Swans in the preliminary quarter-finals (3-16 to 2-5).
In group one of the county championship 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), but there was evidence in that game that Johnny Kelly's men had something to offer this championship. 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. And, when the sides met once more on on Sunday evening at Semple Stadium Borris-Ileigh franked their form - the North champions recovered a single-point interval deficit (0-10 to 0-11) to beat Loughmore-Castleiney 1-18 to 1-17 with Niall Kenny notching the key goal for his side.
Brendan Maher is in terrific form for the Borris-Ileigh men as are Dan McCormack and Conor Kenny, but there was a real bite to Drom against Clonoulty-Rossmore and if Séamus Callanan and company catch fire there will only be one winner.
Verdict: Drom & Inch.
Thurles Sarsfields v Éire Óg Annacarty
The quarter-finals began dramatically at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday when thirteen-man Éire Óg Annacarty beat Mullinahone 2-13 to 1-15. Two Annacarty players were dismissed in the opening half and Mullinahone led 0-9 to 0-6 at the break. A Kevin Fox goal dragged Éire Óg back into contention, but a Kevin Walzer strike in the 43rd minute helped the South men into a 1-11 to 1-7 lead. Annacarty, however, refused to give in and proceeded to out-score their opponents 0-8 to 1-2 to book their place in the semi-finals.
Next up came the meeting of defending champions Thurles Sarsfields and Kilruane MacDonagh’s - the Blues required extra-time before progressing to the last four (3-26 to 1-22). Kilruane recovered from the concession of an early Denis Maher goal to earn themselves a draw (1-20 apiece) having trailed 1-8 to 1-11 at half-time. Sarsfields settled the issue thanks to goals from Pa Bourke and Lar Corbett in extra-time.
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.
Éire Óg lost the Tipperary Co-Op West Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship to Clonoulty-Rossmore (1-9 to 1-14), but regrouped nicely to book their place in the last four. That said an Éire Óg win over the defending champions next Sunday would represent a massive shock.
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.
COUNTY SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Before the quarter-final action can get underway West Tipperary rivals Arravale Rovers and Éire Óg Annacarty must face off in a preliminary quarter-final on Wednesday, September 20th in Clonoulty at 8pm with a place in the last eight up for grabs.
Given their heroic exploits in the county senior hurling championship the games are sure to catch up on Éire Óg at some point, but you would have to fancy the Annacarty men to edge this clash with Arravale Rovers.
Verdict: Éire Óg Annacarty.
Three Tipperary Water County Senior Football Championship quarter-finals take place on Saturday, September 23rd.
There is sure to be a sting in the Killenaule players following their disappointing exit from the hurling championship - Killenaule face Aherlow Gaels in New Inn at 4pm and must be favoured to progress.
Defending champions Loughmore-Castleiney must also be disappointed with how their hurling season turned out and are likely winners against Kilsheelan-Kilcash in Golden (4pm).
The third quarter-final on Saturday features the meeting of South rivals Moyle Rovers and Ballyporeen in Cahir at 4pm. Ballyporeen are sure to put up a fight, but you suspect that Moyle Rovers will prove too strong on this occasion.
Verdict: Moyle Rovers.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, September 27th Clonmel Commercials face the winner of the clash between Arravale Rovers and Éire Óg Annacarty in Ballyporeen at 8pm. Should Annacarty progress through their quarter-final against Arravale Rovers the Eire Og lads will then be facing into their fourth senior match (hurling and football) in ten days. Such a schedule is far from ideal preparation to face a side like Clonmel Commercials who, reportedly, are on an absolute mission this year.
Verdict: Clonmel Commercials.
COUNTY SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP - SEAMUS O RIAIN CUP
There is a huge prize at stake this weekend when the semi-finals of the Séamus Ó Riain Cup take place - the winners of the respective semi-finals will be promoted to Roinn I irrespective of who wins the competition outright.
Roscrea v Holycross-Ballycahill
On Sunday, September 24th Roscrea and Holycross-Ballycahill clash in Borrisoleigh at 12 noon.
Holycross-Ballycahill will be the favourites to progress here, but must be on their guard against a lively Roscrea forward line.
In the quarter-finals Roscrea beat the Templederry Kenyons 4-19 to 2-19 at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh. Indeed, Roscrea served notice that Ger Fitzpatrick’s men are a very real contender in the Séamus Ó Riain Cup.
The side coached by Michael Scully over-turned a six-point half-time deficit to win by six against a Templederry Kenyons team who are no slouches in their own right.
During the group stage of the competition Roscrea lost to Toomevara (3-13 to 1-20) before beating Newport (1-17 to 1-11) and Ballingarry (3-25 to 2-11). In their respective quarter-final at The Ragg Holycross-Ballycahill survived a reasonable scare before seeing off the challenge of Clonakenny (2-18 to 2-14) - Michael Ferncombe’s men led 2-10 to 1-8 at the break. In the group stage of the competition Holycross beat Lorrha-Dorrha (3-26 to 2-18) and Knockavilla Kickhams (2-24 to 0-14).
Holycross need to get their match-ups at the back right in this one, but should progress to the final if they manage to contain Shane Fletcher and Sam Conlon.
Toomevara v JK Bracken's
On Saturday, September 23rd Toomevara take on JK Bracken’s in The Ragg at 2pm.
In the quarter-finals at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh Denis Kelly’s Toomevara won their quarter-final at their ease against Silvermines (0-22 to 1-6) having led 0-13 to 0-1 at the break. Although the ‘Mines never gave up they were never truly in this contest. Indeed, manager Denis Kelly will be pleased with the form of his side as the Greyhounds face into the semi-finals with a coveted place in Roinn I now truly within their reach. During the group stage of the competition Toome beat Roscrea (1-20 to 3-13), Ballingarry (2-23 to 1-17) and Newport (2-20 to 0-12).
In the last eight JK Bracken’s beat Lorrha-Dorrha 2-19 to 2-16 at MacDonagh Park in Cloughjordan. Lorrha-Dorrha made matters interesting with a late rally, but JK Bracken’s were good value for this three-point victory with Lyndon Fairbrother notching 2-11. JK Bracken’s beat Borrisokane (0-18 to 0-10) and drew with Clonakenny (0-20 to 1-17) and although Toomevara need to be mindful of the JK Bracken’s running game you would have to fancy the Greyhounds here.
COUNTY INTERMEDIATE HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
The draw was made for the semi-finals of the Tipperary Water County Intermediate Hurling Championship on Monday evening and pits the winner of the quarter-final clash between Moyne Templetuohy and Moneygall against St Mary’s Clonmel while in the second semi-final Gortnahoe-Glengoole face Cappawhite.
The last eight match between Moyne Templetuohy and Moneygall was scheduled to take place in Templemore on Sunday, but was postponed until Wednesday, September 20th in Dr Morris Park, Thurles (7.30pm) due to a bereavement in the Moyne club.
Both semi-finals have been scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 24th - St Mary's Clonmel will face Moneygall or Moyne Templetuohy in Boherlahan (throw-in 12 noon) and Gortnahoe-Glengoole meet Cappawhite in Leahy Park, Cashel (throw-in 12 noon).
On Saturday Cappawhite beat Seán Treacy's at Golden (1-12 to 0-13) to reach the last four of the competition while on Sunday Gortnahoe-Glengoole saw off Ballinahinch at Drombane 1-15 to 0-16. Gortnahoe dealt with the notable challenge of Thurles Sarsfields in the Mid Tipperary final and although Cappawhite’s quarter-final win over Seán Treacy's was certainly eye-catching we still fancy the Gortnahoe-Glengoole lads to edge this semi-final contest - the Mid Tipperary champions may have found their form at an opportune time of the year.
In the preliminary quarter-finals Moneygall beat Kiladangan 4-16 to 0-12, but the real eye-catching result from that round of action was Moyne-Templetuohy’s single-point victory over Thurles Sarsfields (0-20 to 0-19) at Gortnahoe. Moyne-Templetuohy also beat St Mary’s Clonmel 1-14 to 0-16 during the group stage of the championship.
The Moneygall team features plenty of players with senior experience, but we still fancy Moyne-Templetuohy to progress to the semi-finals where they will have it all to do to beat St Mary’s Clonmel who dismissed the challenge of Moyle Rovers (4-13 to 0-9) and then Kilsheelan-Kilcash (1-15 to 0-14).
Verdict: St Mary's Clonmel.
COUNTY SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP RELEGATION
The process to determine which club gets relegated from Roinn I of the Tipperary County Senior Hurling Championship is now close to a conclusion.
In the opening round of games Kiladangan beat Ballina 1-20 to 1-10 while on Saturday last at Dolla Burgess enjoyed a 2-20 to 2-10 victory over Ballina. Two of the three sides involved in this series of games will be demoted and since Ballina have now lost both games Ballina will play in Roinn II in 2018. In round three Burgess meet Kiladangan in Nenagh on Sunday, September 24th at 12 noon - the loser of that contest will join Ballina in Roinn II next season.
This contest is sure to draw a crowd. Both sides will be nourished by their keen rivalry as neighbours, but also by the prize at stake: maintaining a place in Roinn I alongside the elite clubs is key to the future development of a club. You would have to fancy Kiladangan in this one. The 2016 county senior hurling finalists are littered with quality hurlers and have won the North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship on a regular basis in (2013, 2015 & 2016).