WITH five rounds out of seven played in the group stages of the Senior Hurling Championship, St Rynagh's continue to lead the way as they sit undefeated on top with nine points. Their only dropped points came from a draw with Belmont in round three but they made no such mistake on Saturday evening as they disposed off a Birr side missing several starters.
It finished 1-18 to 0-10 with the defence excellent throughout while Aaron Kenny top scored with six points and Gary Conneely grabbing the goal.
Birr still look set to make the knockout stages but they will need to get players back if they are to have a serious tilt at the championship.
Next best at the moment to St Rynagh's are Kilcormac/Killoughey and they heaped more misery on Coolderry on Saturday evening by beating them by six points 2-17 to 0-17.
Coolderry were under new management with Coolderry native and former Ballyboden manager Liam Hogan at the helm but they couldn't muster the win with Cillian Kiely, who successfully appealed his red card from the last round, leading the way at centre back.
Oisin Mahon grabbed both goals for K/K while Brian Carroll led the scoring for the Coolderry men who are now sucked into a relegation dog fight.
Friday night saw Shinrone continue their good form with a 10 point defeat of Ballinamere. 2-22 to 0-18 was the final score with two goals in as many minutes in the opening quarter from Sean Cleary and Killian Sampson helping them to a 2-10 to 0-8 half time lead.
Ballinamere are now in real relegation trouble and will be in the relegation final if they don't manage to pick up a result against either St Rynagh's or K/K. A win may not even save them from it but to have any chance, they will need to pull off a big shock.
Kinnitty were six minutes away from a massive win as they led Belmont by three points with six minutes to go on Saturday evening. Belmont then went and hit 1-3 without reply to record a six point swing and win by three – 2-14 to 1-14.
David Nally was to the fore while Damien Egan hit 1-2 of that final 1-3 spurt. The result leaves Kinnitty rooted to the bottom but they will know that a win over Shinrone or Coolderry in the final two games would give them a great chance of avoiding a relegation final.
St Rynagh's and K/K are mathematically through to the knockout stages with two games to spare while Shinrone and Belmont are all but assured.
Birr then sit on five points and while they will probably go through, there is still time and games left for them to be caught.
One of Coolderry, Kinnitty and Ballinamere are likely to go through while the other two will compete in the relegation final.
Round six fixtures
Birr v Kilcormac/Killoughey
Coolderry v Belmont
Shinrone v Kinnitty
St Rynagh's v Ballinamere