Ferns tipped to spring surprise
Football replays this weekend
What should have been football finals weekend kicks off on Friday evening with the meeting of Oylegate-Glenbrien and the Shamrocks in the rescheduled Enniscorthy Farm Systems Junior football championship semi-final in St. Patrick's Park (8 p.m.).
The sides were level when their tie was abandoned in the second quarter two weeks ago and there is likely to be little in this re-match either. Shamrocks have been working on the big ball game for a few weeks now while their opponents have had a welcome hurling distraction.
That may well prove vital. The Enniscorthy club are easily overlooked but are here on merit, boast several fine footballers themselves, and are a tough, dogged side. Expect it to be close once again but Shamrocks can nick it and join Monageer-Boolavogue in the title decider.
Innovate Wexford Park is the venue for the two Ashdown Park/Amber Springs Hotels Intermediate football championship semi-final replays.
The first set of encounters seemed to only confirm what most people believed, that there's very little separating the four sides remaining.
It was said that Bannow-Ballymitty didn't perform in their first meeting with Ballyhogue but the Grantstown side have a recent history of underperforming when the chips are down and the pressure is ratcheted up. When a side only manages 2-5, after racking up 1-15 two months earlier against the same opposition, it also sets alarm bells ringing.
Ballyhogue are a team on the rise and will not be fazed by a replay. In fact, their performance last time out will only confirm their belief that they can mix it with anyone at this grade.
If the injuries they picked up last time out clear up in time, and they put in the same showing of grit and determination, they can take the win but it will be an extremely close encounter once again.
Ferns St. Aidan's are another side playing without fear with the big ball. Their defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh in the hurling wasn't exactly a surprise to anyone so they shouldn't be too dejected coming into the replay, knowing a county final place is well and truly within their grasp.
Many supporters believed Taghmon-Camross paid their opponents too much respect in the first encounter and they may have learned from that.
They certainly have the quality within their side to become county champions but there are more questions than answers heading into this tie.
Maybe there's something in that cautious approach, as a glance through the team sheet will show that Ferns have plenty of quality themselves, with only their preference for hurling arguably getting in the way of them being a Senior football side.
Again, this will be close; a draw is not out of the question, with the underdogs nabbing it in overtime the call.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn are lucky to be playing again this week. Cloughbawn should be facing a final against Duffry Rovers this weekend but their late collapse in the first tie has given the Over The Water men another crack in Taghmon on Saturday (2 p.m.).
The worry with Cloughbawn has to be how they got shredded for the two goals. On a tight pitch like St. Patrick's Park that is worrying, but Taghmon is wider and should suit their opponent's attackers.
That said, the Castleboro men had their chances too but didn't take them. If they play as well again Cloughbawn should emerge victorious. They are chosen to take the win but again there is little to choose between these teams.
Following that fixture, Crossabeg-Ballymurn meet Fethard in the Junior 'B' semi-final replay. Goals again proved vital for the white and green men in the first fixture. However, Fethard were the better side and would expect to prevail at the second time of asking.
The first final of the adult season pits HWH-Bunclody with St. Martin's in the Junior 'A' decider. St. Martin's won the group game between the sides but the drop off in performance within the club in recent weeks, tied in with Bunclody's semi-final showing, makes the Enniscorthy District side the pick.
There are a few hurling contests shoe-horned into Saturday afternoon too.
There was nothing to choose between Duffry Rovers and St. James' in their first Top Oil Intermediate 'A' encounter last weekend and that's likely to be the case again.
It could depend on who comes out of the first meeting in better shape physically with the run of consecutive weekends of action catching up with certain sides. Ramsgrange are picked to complete the job in St. Patrick's Park (2.30 p.m.).
In the Junior 'B' championship, Blackwater have had quite the ride in recent weeks, and all that hurling might just give them the edge over Adamstown. Rapparees narrowly missed out on a league title earlier in the season but they are chosen to edge Craanford in the other last four clash.