Sports

County final places at stake as Offaly Senior Hurling championship at semi final stage

Thursday, 7 September 2017

BY 5.30pm this Sunday evening, the finalists for the Molloy Environmental systems senior hurling championship should be known with both games down for a double header in O'Connor Park.

There is both a familiar and unfamiliar feel to them. Belmont are appearing in their first ever senior hurling championship semi final while Kilcormac/Killoughey, Seir Kieran and reigning champions are no strangers to the business end of the championship.

K/K are the only team from group one of the championship to make the semi finals with the other three participants coming from group two. K/K take on Belmont and 2.30pm while champions St Rynagh's will go up against Seir Kieran at 4.30pm with the winners advancing to the final showpiece and a crack at the Sean Robbins Cup.

With K/K and St Rynagh's going into the game as favourites, Belmont and Seir Kieran both have live changes of turning the championship on its head and ruffling a few feathers.

 

Kilcormac/Killoughey v Belmont - Sunday 10th September - O'Connor Park - 2.30pm.

 

Serial opponents at the quarter final stage in recent years, this time they meet in the last four with Belmont on the crest of a wave with their first ever semi final meeting. They come up against a K/K side who haven't been at their best this year but are still undefeated. That says a lot about them that they are still in such a strong position having not found top gear.

K/K have been injury ridden this year and that has continued in the lead up to the semi final with Dan Currams picking up a suspected broken ankle in a challenge game last weekend. Kevin Grogan also looks set to miss the game and this is on top of the likes of Ger Healion, Thomas Geraghty, Oisin Mahon and Enda Grogan all struggling to be fit also.

The loss of Currams is cruel both for the man himself and for the team. He was one of the shining lights for them in recent games and was scoring freely from play.

Losing Kevin Grogan from the full back line is also tough on them with Belmont possessing a potent inside line in the form of Oisin Kelly, Colin Egan and Leon Fox.

This is an area that must be a concern to Stephen Byrne and his management team and there may be temptation to call back Peter Healion from the forward line to bolster their full back line.

In terms of scoring power, Currams will be a loss but in the shape of Peter Geraghty, James Gorman, Cillian Kiely and Ciaran Slevin, they still have men who can score freely and have stepped up to the plate in the past.

Conor Mahon is a lynchpin in the half forward line while Damien Kilmartin and Jordan Quinn have been hurling well in the half back line.

Belmont's Damien Egan was quiet in their win over Kinnitty but up to that he was a man in serious form and they will hope he can have a big game around the middle third. Their free taking let them down against Kinnitty but no doubt Egan will have worked on this in the meantime.

Their back line will face one of their biggest tasks to date. David Kenny is rock solid at full back while Mark Egan has been solid at centre back.

Trevor Fletcher is at the helm in Belmont and the former county and Leinster final winner with K/K will have to lead his Belmont men into battle with the men he once soldiered with.

This is a massive chance for Belmont. They have struggled to get over K/K in quarter finals in recent years and K/K will go in as favourites despite their injury worries. Could there be an upset on the cards.?

Verdict: Belmont.

 

St Rynagh's v Seir Kieran - Sunday 10th September - O'Connor Park - 4pm.

Having already met in the group, St Rynagh's and Seir Kieran will once again face off on Sunday but the stakes are a lot higher this time around.

Both were assured of qualifying for the knockout rounds when they last met on a blustery Sunday morning in Coolderry with St Rynagh's coming out three point winners.

That game won't count for much on Sunday but it is hard to beat the same team twice in the same year. St Rynagh's won't be thinking like that though and after sneaking over Birr in the quarter final, they now they have to raise their game.

This Seir Kieran have been knocking around now for a while. Led by the brilliant Joe Bergin, others have stepped up the plate this year in terms of taking on some of the scoring load.

Adrian Hynes, Tom Carroll, James Mulrooney and Bergin are the first four names on the team sheet in terms of forwards and the Clareen men will need three out of the four to hit form if they are to make the final.

Eanna Murphy was brilliant in the quarter final win over Coolderry while the energetic Kevin Dunne in the middle of the field has been playing some brilliant hurling.

When they hit form, they can be blistering but St Rynagh's are the County champions and this is Seir Kieran's acid test. With Dermot Shortt and Aidan Treacy down the spine, Joe Bergin will have a teak tough marker whether he is at full forward or out on the '40'.

The supporting cast in the back line are no slouches either with Ben Conneely one of the best hurlers in the County at the moment. Pat Camon and Garry Kelly in the middle of the field have a nice mix to them while up front, a fully fit Stephen Quirke will be key.

Joseph O'Connor missed the win over Birr due to an injury in the warm up but he is expected to be back in contention while Stephen Wynne is also a player well capable of getting four or five points from play over the hour.

Form is all well and good. Both have impressed and disappointed so far at various stages but which team can turn up on the day and signal their championship intentions in the heat of semi final action.

Verdict: St Rynagh's.

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