Five teams vie for hurling league title

Last weekend's championship draws will have served as a sharp reminder to clubs countywide that their playing seasons are just around the corner.

And with two rounds of the All-County Leagues in both codes pencilled in for next month, the training is sure to be stepped up between now and March 1.

Another useful means of getting competitive games before the championship starts is the annual Leinster adult club hurling league.

The details were released last week, and it shows that five clubs from Wexford will be in contenion for the Division 1 crown.

Indeed, there is a Slaneyside presence in all four groups, and Rathnure will be aiming to go one better than 2016 when they lost the final to Ballyboden St. Enda's in Portlaoise.

They are in Group 1 and are due to play Lucan Sarsfields at home on February 25, Castlepollard of Westmeath away, and Kilcormac-Killoughey (Offaly) at home.

Group 2 includes Faythe Harriers whose scheduled games are at home to Ballyboden St. Enda's, away to Young Irelands (Kilkenny), and home to Camross (Laois).

The Group 3 participants are Oulart-The Ballagh whose opponents will be Bennettsbridge (Kilkenny) away, Raharney (Westmeath) at home, and Kilmacud Crokes (away).

There will be a local derby in Group 4 when Ferns St. Aidan's entertain Buffers Alley on March 18. The other participants are Dublin's St. Vincent's and Mount Leinster Rangers of Carlow.

It is noticeable that Wexford involvement is confined to those five teams in the top flight, with none of our clubs entering Divisions 2, 3 or 4.

For the record, the 56 entrants in total come from Dublin (10), Kildare (9), Wicklow (7), Wexford, Kilkenny and Laois (5 each), Offaly and Carlow (4 each), Louth and Westmeath (3 each), Meath (1).

This league is in its eleventh year, with the first Division 1 final in 2007 seeing a Wexford derby as Rathnure beat Buffers Alley by 4-14 to 3-6.

Since then though, the title has eluded Model county teams, with no fewer than five finals lost: Tullaroan (Kilkenny) beat Rapparees in 2008, Dunnamaggin (Kilkenny) beat Ferns St. Aidan's in 2009, Birr (Offaly) beat Rathnure in 2012, Clonkill (Westmeath) beat Buffers Alley after a replay in 2014, and Ballyboden St. Enda's beat Rathnure last year.

Division 2 titles were won by Askamore (2009) and Shamrocks (2010), while Cloughbawn and Oylegate-Glenbrien were runners-up in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

The Oulart-The Ballagh second string collected the Division 3 title in 2009, while Craanford were successful in Division 4 one year earlier.

Wexford People

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