Hot on the heels of their seniors winning the county title, the minor hurlers of Ballygunner will attempt to double up as they take on Dunhill/Fenor in the Minor county final this Saturday at Walsh Park at 2.30pm
Having lost the final in a replay to Mount Sion last year, Ballygunner will be anxious to make amends and capture the title for what would be the third time in four years.
However, Dunhill/Fenor will certainly be no pushovers.
They showed in the semi-final dethroning of the champions exactly what they are capable of and in Eamonn Murphy they have one of the most highly rated players in underage hurling at the moment.
This victory over Mount Sion was certainly no flash in the pan for Dunhill/Fenor. Earlier, in the group stages of this championship, they recorded a two-point victory over Ballygunner, which raised a few eyebrows at the time.
They were not expected to beat Mount Sion in the semi-final but a majestic performance form Eamonn Murphy at centre-forward propelled Dunhill/Fenor to the County final.
Yet they are far from a one man team. at centre-back, Tyrone Costelloe has been hurling up a storm all summer and looks a promising county player for the future.
In the semi-final, goalkeeper Ryan Butler made several outstanding saves to deny Mount Sion at crucial stages. At full-back, Thomas Dunbar will attempt to keep Ballygunner at bay and will be flanked by Paul Power and Chris Breheny.
Tyrone Costelloe will be joined by Jim Power and Kieran Halley in the half-back line. At midfield, the excellent Darragh Murray will be paired with Darragh Grace.
While Murphy is likely to again provide the focal point for the attack, there are others with the capability of hurting the Ballygunner defence. Briany Dunbar, Mark O’Reilly and John Power all played well in the semi-final while Luke Middleton and Pierce Dunne could all figure in the attack.
Ballygunner will go into this match as favourites as they attempt to claim a grand slam of titles in adult hurling this year.
With the senior title already in the bag, they have qualified for the Under-21 County final as well.
Indeed players such as Stephen O’Keeffe, Philip Mahony and Pauric Mahony will be attempting their own grand slam, as they are starting on all three teams.
When you also consider that these three players were also on the Waterford minor team that captured the Munster title this year, it illustrates just what kind of year they have had. O’Keeffe will once again start in goal this Saturday.
The defence has a very solid look to it with the likes of Philip Mahony, Jack Ruddle, Jonny Delahunty, Stephen O’Keeffe and David O’Donoghue expected to figure in this region. At midfield, Ballygunner are likely to pair Harley Barnes with Patrick Ronan.
In the forward division, Ballygunner will have a lot of firepower to call upon. The Duggan brothers, Philip and Keith will be on one wing with Pauric Mahony and the pacy Conor Power on the other side. The equally speedy Michael Orpen will probably start at centre-forward with big danger man Ross Murphy at full-forward.
Given the number of players on their side that regularly feature in their senior and Under-21 teams, one feels that Ballygunner may just shade it this Saturday.