Portumna prodigy Joe Canning.

Portumna prodigy Joe Canning.

If your eyes aren’t diverted towards Parnell Park for your hurling fix this Sunday, then the Semple Stadium tractor beam should do the trick that same afternoon where Ballyhale Shamrocks take on Portumna.

The word ‘epic’ springs to mind when contemplating a fixture featuring some of the country’s greatest hurling talent, including ‘King’ Henry Shefflin and, for the challengers, the frighteningly good Joe Canning.

“It’s a shame the pitch couldn’t take two matches,” said Shamrocks manager Maurice Aylward when looking ahead to the weekend’s AIB Club Championship semi-finals.

“You would have got at least another 10,000 people into Thurles if it was a double-header, but with the time of year that’s in it, it probably couldn’t take two tough matches on the same day. All the same, though, it’s still a bit of a pity.”

Shamrocks, looking to regain a title they won in 2007 and claim a fifth All-Ireland crown on Saint Patrick’s Day, could surely face no more difficult opponents than the defending champions.

For their part, Portumna are looking to add to their 2006 and 2008 titles and in so doing probably secure the mantle of the greatest senior hurling club of the decade.

But Ballyhale could make a serious claim for the same mystical honour were they to top the club pile in 2009, an added ingredient to a tie already full to overflowing with potential.