It’s showdown time.
After four hectic quarter-finals in the St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling Championship, the big four are set to do battle for a county crown.
Holders Ballyhale Shamrocks meet James Stephens and Tullaroan take on O’Loughlin Gaels in the ‘semis’ on October 24.
The pundits are already busy, experts are flexing their vocal cords and Kilkenny Press is predicting a Shamrocks v O’Loughlin Gaels decider, a mouth-watering clash of town v country.
The latter is not because we know more than anybody else about the beautiful game or indeed know anything about said sport.
It is because we resorted to the good old fashioned method of gambling what was once a precious half a crown depending on the prick of a pin.
Just like granny did with her only bet of the year at the Aintree Grand National time, we wrote down the four names, closed our eyes and stuck a needle into an A4 page, twice.
A FEW THIRST QUENCHERS
Hey presto, Ballyhale and the Gaels got the nod or more aptly the jab and so our tenner goes on a double we hope will provide a few thirst quenchers for us.
There will be a multiplicity of views as to what club will beat what club and who will go on to collect the Credit Union Cup.
Going on the weekend’s great games, it might bring success to a hurling fan who fancies a pre-final flutter, if he or she were to pick two names from a hat and these could prove to be successful as attempting to analyse the pros and cons of the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants.
Two early defeats failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Shamrocks followers and admirers.
Ballyhale recovered with a victory, albeit not exactly an impressive one against a gallant Graigue Ballycallan.
But on Sunday the hurling aristocrats from the comparatively wee south town showed once more why they have been so powerful for so long.
RUFFLED THEIR FEATHERS
There were those who fancied Bennettsbridge to beat them and, in fairness, the ‘Bridge boys did ruffle their feathers in half one of their Nowlan Park crunch game.
In half two, Ballyhale upped the ante, without hitting top gear, and totted up a brilliant final tally of 0-27 to 1-15 for the ‘Bridge that had an excellent run but unfortunately for them, flattered to deceive when push came to shove.
With wily 38 year old war horse, Tommy Walsh displaying all the courage and skill that makes him a hurling icon, Tullaroan got the better of Clara on a 1-29 to 2-19 score.
The bold Tommy polished off a fine battling Tullaroan display when he scored the goal that helped to contribute to their seven-point win.
Hugely impressive in their joust with Mullinavat was an Andy Comerford-managed O’Loughlin Gaels outfit that, in the opinion of many, just may be the club to thwart Ballyhale’s ambitions of adding another major trophy to an already packed sideboard.
EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM
At the finish there were six points between the teams.
The Gaels added to the adage that the early bird gets the worm when it scored two quick goals.
One came from the stick of St John’s Parish answer to Cúchalainn, Paddy Deegan, arguably the local game’s most adept utility player.
Paddy has now figured in defence and attack with his club and had a spell in midfield at the weekend.
Final score was 2-19 to 0-19.
The city derby between neighbours Dicksboro and James Stephens, as predicted, turned out to be a see-saw struggle between two determined and very talented teams.
With bragging rights at stake, or more positively, a semi-final spot, the game was fought with passion.
The match pendulum swung both way. But when it mattered most, it edged towards the Village that finished strongly.
VERY IMPRESSIVE CIAN KENNY
As the minutes ticked away and the very impressive Cian Kenny and his fellow warriors, including veteran Eoin Larkin edged to a narrow lead and now get a crack at Ballyhale, which they will relish.
So, some clubs will lick their wounds and vow to do better next year while others will knuckle down with all four semi-finalists believing, or at least try to convince themselves that they may be good enough to go all the way.
Meanwhile in the Intermediate Shield Final in Danesfort, Carrickshock had a narrow 1-14 to 0-16 win over St Martin’s of Coon, Muckalee.
In the first round of the Intermediate Championship in Thomastown, Paul Murphy’s Danesfort bounced back from a mediocre league campaign to get the better of Conahy Shamrocks on a score of 1-23 to 1-16.