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Monday 16 October 2017

Pettitt's SHC begins this weekend

By Brendan Furlong

16 October 2016; Garret Sinnott captain of Oulart-The Ballagh lifts the cup as his team-mates celebrate after the Wexford County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final game between Cloughbawn and Oulart-The Ballagh at Wexford Park in Wexford. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
16 October 2016; Garret Sinnott captain of Oulart-The Ballagh lifts the cup as his team-mates celebrate after the Wexford County Senior Club Hurling Championship Final game between Cloughbawn and Oulart-The Ballagh at Wexford Park in Wexford. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

A desire for glory will drive clubs when the Pettitt’s Senior hurling championship gets under way this weekend with a full schedule of opening round games.

When you look at the opening programme there is a lot to recomment all the games as some very interesting pairings have been thrown up which should give the championship the ideal kick start.

These days one is inclined to go with the tried and trusted which will make Oulart-The Ballagh once again favourites to lift the Dr. Bowe Cup. They help to form what is a hugely attractive double-header in Bellefield this Friday evening when they begin the defence of their title against St. Martin’s, while last year’s beaten finalists, Cloughbawn, get proceedings under way at the same venue at 7 p.m. with a clash against arch-rivals and neighbours, Rathnure.

Oulart-The Ballagh have been very much the story of club hurling in the county. Examine the findings from all of their contests and one is restricted in pushing forward a team that is likely to end their reign at the pedestal of Wexford hurling. One of those sides with real potential though, along with ability and skill to match, is St. Martin’s.

St. Martin’s strength lies in the fact they are competing at Senior level in both codes, with many believing they have an equal chance of ultimate glory in both, but this will be their big test.

But it goes without saying they have the quality young players to really test the stamina of their more experienced opponents, as they contain players like Willie Devereux, Jack O’Connor, Joe O’Connor, Rory O’Connor, Daithí Waters, Ciarán Lyng, Aaron Maddock and Jake Firman.

It will be pretty much the same story for Oulart-The Ballagh, still reliant on such experience as Keith Rossiter, Eoin Moore, Shaun Murphy, Nicky Kirwan and David Redmond to steer them along what one would expect to be a lengthy road, but St. Martin’s could very well surprise them on this occasion.

Last year’s beaten finalists, Cloughbawn, will be seeking to build on that impressive run, only ending with a final defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh. Their opponents, Rathnure, have been struggling to impose themselves on the Senior grade but the return of Jack Guiney to top form could inspire them. Cloughbawn will be looking towards Colm Kehoe and Harry Kehoe for inspiration. Here the better-balanced Cloughbawn should prevail.

Innovate Wexford Park has an attractive double-header on Saturday evening, with town sides, Rapparees and Faythe Harriers, meeting in the opening game at 5.15 p.m. The Rapps, inspired by Liam Ryan and Kevin Foley, will be expected to prevail over the Wexford town side, despite the excellent form of Lee Chin.

The second game involving Glynn-Barntown and Buffers Alley should provide a stirring physical challenge. Glynn-Barntown have had a poor start to the football campaign, and will be looking to this game to resurrect their season, while Buffers Alley are a side capable of springing surprises.

Oylegate-Glenbrien return to Senior hurling at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (3.45 p.m.), where their clash with Over The Water neighbours Shelmaliers should provide a searching test.

In the opening game at 2 p.m., Naomh Eanna, having impressed on their first season back in Senior ranks, will be hoping to build on this in what should be a game with Ferns St. Aidan's that produces a close call in the end.

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