The second game at Walsh Park on Sunday promises to be an absolute belter of a tie as reigning champions De La Salle take on the aristocrats of Waterford hurling, Mount Sion.
To say that this is the tie of the round is a gross understatement as both of these sides have genuine aspirations of being county champions come the end of the year. Both teams are laden down with players who have experience of playing at the absolute top level of the game. This should ensure a sizeable crowd in Walsh Park on Sunday afternoon.
No sooner has one season ended than another one starts for holders De La Salle. Indeed it is only 6 short weeks since their All-Ireland dream was shattered at the hands of Joe Canning’s Portumna. This De La Salle team has recovered from knock-out blows before and have enough talent within their ranks to come again. Once again, former county player, Steven Brenner will stand between the posts, guarded by a full-back line of Alan Kelly, Ian Flynn and Michael Doherty.
Another county star Kevin Moran will probably line out at centre back, flanked by Darren Russell and Stephen Daniels. If Bryan Phelan is fit, he will line out at midfield where the other position is likely to be filled by Conan Watt. In the forwards, De La Salle are forced into a couple of changes from their county final team. Veteran attacker Derek McGrath has retired while dual player Lee Hayes is out for the season with the cruciate ligament injury he picked up in Croke Park. When you throw in the likes of John Mullane, Padraig Nevin, Dean Twomey and David Greene there is still plenty fire power there to occupy the Mount Sion defence.
Mount Sion are always at their most dangerous coming off the back of a bad season as they most certainly had last year. They failed to come out of their group having suffered defeats at the hands of Lismore, Abbeyside and Passage. However, they did win a minor championship, just to remind us that their period out of the limelight is likely to be short-lived. Mount Sion can never be written off going into a championship match and this one is no exception. Jim Greene is back at the helm and his track record speaks for itself. They have county players in every line of the field including goalkeeper, where Ian O’Regan will play. Elsewhere, it is rumoured that former county star Brian Greene is back in the squad so don’t be surprised to see him at some stage. Veteran, Anthony Kirwan is likely to start at full back with Kevin Flynn and John Cleere in the corner back positions. Tony Browne expected to be fit enough to line out at centre back while Christopher Ryan and Kenny Stafford may man the wing back positions. Paul Hammond and Eoin Whelan could form a strong looking midfield pairing. In the forwards Mount Sion have an abundance of talent to choose from. If Ken McGrath recovers from a hamstring injury in time, he is likely to line out at centre forward where he could have an intriguing duel with Kevin Moran. Elsewhere in the forwards, Mount Sion have the choice of Eoin McGrath, Sean Ryan, former Dunhill star Jason Phelan, Micheal White and under 21 star Martin O’Neill.
This game is absolutely impossible to predict but if I had to stick my head on the block I would go for Mount Sion. I feel that going back over the years, Mount Sion rarely have two bad seasons in a row and they could be very dangerous this year.
Saturday evening will be an important one in the history of the Ring Club as they take to the field for their first ever game in the senior hurling championship.
Having won the intermediate grade late last year, Ring will be the Only Gaeltacht Club in the whole of Ireland playing both Senior Hurling and Football in their county in 2009.
Naturally, as a small club and having just come up to senior for the first time, and having no household hurling names to pick from, they will be one of the favourites to make the drop down. But be guaranteed that they won’t do so without putting up a very good fight. For what ring have is a group of players who will give it their all in the blue and gold shirt.
Players like Mike Tobin, Liam and Seamus Ó Lionáin, Shane Kelly, Padraig and Noel O’Murchadha, Tadhg O h’Uallachain, Darach Breathnach, Cillian Ó Murchadha Cian Ó Conchúir, Seán Ó hArtaigh and Paddy Ó Catháin in goal, will all give it 100% in every game.
Lismore have not won a Senior Hurling Championship since the early part of the last decade and many feel for a club with the talent at their disposal that’s not good enough.
Many of their big name players need no introduction. Dan Shanahan will cause any team problems when on form, as will other former inter-county players Dave Bennett and Brendan Landers.
Maurice Shanahan will be expected to feature big time, along with the likes of John Heneghan, the Howards, the Prendergasts and Shane Heaphy.
A number of players that won back to back All-Ireland Colleges finals with Blackwater Community School in 2007 and ’08 as well as those that reached the semi-final of this year’s Dr Harty Cup are also likely to appear at some stage for the Cathedral Town side.