Sports

St Rynagh's Face Big Test Away To Oulart The Ballagh

Thursday, 3 November 2016

TWO weeks after winning their first Offaly Senior hurling title in 23 years, St Rynagh's will be back on the horse this weekend when they travel to Wexford to take on reigning Leinster champions Oulart the Ballagh in this year's Leinster club senior hurling championship quarter final.

Before a ball is pucked, St Rynagh's will have to go into the game without the services of Garry Conneely, Stephen Wynne (both out of the country) and Stephen Quirke (injured). All three men will be big losses for the Rynagh's men but having won that first title in 23 years, after years of near misses, they can also travel to the sunny South East knowing that there is a fair degree of pressure off. Quirke hasn't been entirely ruled out as of Monday afternoon but it is extremely unlikely that he will play any part.

The Wexford champions will be warm favourites for the game but St Rynagh's are a team with plenty of capabilities. While they made hard work of the County final win over Birr, there was enormous pressure on them that day having lost the last two finals in 2014 and 2015.

They shot 12 first half wides against Birr and that will be something they can ill-afford to do this Sunday. While they are down some key players, they have plenty of hurlers in form.

Garry Kelly and Ronan Hughes were outstanding in the final while the placing of Joseph O'Connor in the full forward line was a coy move and one that worked well. His presence closer to goal will be all the more vital now given the absence of Stephen Quirke.

Ben Conneely, Dermot Shortt and Aidan Treacy are all rock solid while the County final also saw Danny Maloney, Conor Hernon and Pat Camon produce some of their best hurling of the year.

The Wexford kingpins can call upon the likes of Keith Rossiter, David Redmond, Shaun Murphy and Nicky Kirwan to name a few and the draw is certainly one of the toughest St Rynagh's could have got.

The winners of Sunday's game will take on O'Loughlin Gaels of Kilkenny in the semi final in either Wexford or Tullamore so the prize at stake couldn't hardly be bigger.

In a way, it is a pity Rynagh's didn't have a game under their belt in Leinster before tacking the big guns of Oulart but it is what it is and now that they have that winning feeling, they will travel to hopefully make the first step to emulating Coolderry and Kilcormac/Killoughey in recent years.

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