Glynn-Barntown and Castletown my tips for decider
St. Martin's may be suffering from a Senior hurling quarter-final hangover going in against Glynn-Barntown which will make their Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship semi-final clash at Innovate Wexford Park all the more interesting on Sunday afternoon.
Now they will be hoping to summon the courage to make up for that disappointment, but in Glynn-Barntown they are facing a side with their eyes still firmly set on the double as they are already through to the Senior hurling semi-finals.
This is no mean achievement for a club ranked as outsiders going into both championship races, particularly after coming just back up out of Intermediate ranks having annexed that title last year.
St. Martin's turned it on against the reigning champions, St. James', in the quarter-final, avenging last year's final defeat, but following that glorious victory came the hurling downer against Ferns St. Aidan's, losing out to a dramatic late goal deep into additional time.
While that defeat must be still hurting, you'd imagine the players are seasoned enough and have enough leaders to pull out a huge performance, but Glynn-Barntown are unlikely to make it easy having produced some hugely impressive performances on their way to this stage of the championship.
Glynn-Barntown are far more experienced and physical now in comparison to when they were last in Senior ranks, while they also have a confidence in their own ability to compete with the best sides. One of the keys to their lengthy championship run is their mix of youth and experience, so one can expect an expansive game from them.
Michael O'Regan will target the St. Martin's defence for he has been his side's leading scorer so far. Given his physical presence and skill from a central position, he will carry the main scoring threat, but one can also expect big displays from the powerful pairing of Brendan Doyle and Michael Doyle, while inter-county hurling 'keeper Mark Fanning is blossoming at the opportune time in attack.
Expect Glynn-Barntown to also utilise such players as John Leacy, Nigel Usher, Alan Cowman and Robert Dempsey in their search for a place in the final.
St. Martin's face their biggest test of the season in trying to recover from that hurling defeat, but they have the marquee players to make Glynn-Barntown suffer.
Ciarán Lyng looked back to top form in the quarter-final as he single-handedly steered his side to victory over St. James', but this could tell against them unless players like Daithí Waters, Aaron Maddock, Jack O'Connor and Jake Firman step up to the plate. Glynn-Barntown are capable of snatching the scores to edge home.
Arch football rivals, Castletown and Gusserane O'Rahilly's, figure in the opening semi-final which is regarded as a game that could swing either way.
Gusserane have re-grouped following some disappointing group games with their quarter-final victory over St. Anne's bringing a renewed pep to their step, but Castletown have no fears having been one of the most consistent sides in the campaign to date.
There is something about the Castletown DNA when they get to this stage of the championship. There are those within that figure once the business end of the championship is reached as they are a side to be treated seriously. They have the blend of youth and experience and although Colm Morris is injured, Danny Gardiner and Conor Carty will lead the defence, with Anthony Masterson in midfield, while Donnacha Holmes, James Holmes and Brendan Halpin are key men in attack.
Gusserane will be up for the game with their challenge being steered by players like Shane Cullen, Graeme Cullen, Adrian Flynn, Seán Ryan, Jack O'Connor and Páraic Conway.
One expects Castletown's consistent form to see them prevail and secure a passage through to the final.
I will conclude with my weekend referee ratings, starting with two out of five for Brian O'Leary in the Pettitt's SHC quarter-final between Oulart-The Ballagh and Naomh Eanna. James Owens demonstrated why he is one of the top four officials in the country with five out of five in the Cloughbawn v. Rapparees clash.
And in Saturday's Junior football double bill, there was four out of five for James Flood and three out of five for Stephen Burke.