Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis
Published 29/09/2015 | 00:00
I left Wexford Park on Sunday evening with my head held low such was the battering that my reputation as a tipster had taken over the previous 48 hours.
St. Martin's, the Harriers and Glynn-Barntown paid scant regard to being installed as underdogs and thoroughly deserved their last four placings, with Oulart (my only weekend success) serving notice that they are far from ready to become a past statistic in the Senior hurling roll of honour.
Many had felt that the suspension blows would be a hurdle too far for Tomás Codd's men, but any doubts about their credentials were quickly dispelled with a comprehensive victory over a surprisingly flat Shelmaliers side.
For me, this was the performance of the weekend and with necessity throwing the Piercestown management deep into the reservoir of young talent, the players responded with a top-class performance.
Some of the elder statesmen (they are just elder considering the overall age profile of the team) put in huge shifts with Willie Devereux coming out best on dangerman Joe Kelly, Mossy Waters returning to his old form, and Paudie Kelly being the outstanding candidate for man of the match.
The easiest way to encapsulate the rest is to say the young O'Connors were outstanding, and although in the early stages of the development, the men in maroon are now serious contenders with a style of intelligent play that will trouble any opposition.
Cloughbawn have had a good year to date but sadly for them Saturday was their least effective performance of 2015.
The Harriers were full value for their win with Lee Chin again making things happen with a selfless display, and Rhys Clarke showing the incredible talent he undoubtedly possesses, culminating with a wonderful last-minute strike to seal the victory.
Richie Kehoe and David Mooney controlled the centre and Barry Goff reminded all present that class is endless.
The townsmen will enter the last four as outsiders but they have shown more than once in the recent past that they can raise their game when jousting with Oulart.
The Glynn v. Buffers Alley game was unusual in that most of the big performances came from the green and blue side with the Alley really failing to ignite.
Yet, there was only the minimum between the teams at the end with Pat Kenny's brilliant goal leaving Shane Carley and his team anxiously willing Seán Whelan to give a last toot to his whistle.
Glynn were clearly superior on chances created and with Michael O'Regan showing Liam Dunne that he is worth a look, dominated large chunks of play.
Young Cian Neville and Jack Fenlon shored up the back and this, allied to the defensive brilliance of Brendan Doyle, was the launch pad of success.
Glynn held sway in the middle where young Rowan White and the tireless Alan Cowman put in serious shifts.
The Alley will be disappointed and depended a lot on Andrew Kenny's accuracy from placed balls allied to some good scores from Tomás O'Leary but overall did little to threaten Mark Fanning's goal over the hour.
It is no surprise that the final piece of the jigsaw are the men bidding for their twelfth title as they easily came through a game St. Anne's challenge.
There is a slightly new look to Oulart this year but the old threat still lingers with Rory Jacob, Garrett Sinnott, Dessie Mythen and Co. still retaining the ability to trouble any defence.
I feel they left us just short of designating the championship a 'done deal' however, and none of the remaining contenders will enter the concluding stages with the fear that the men in red and black brought to the table a few years back.
It's all to play for and hopefully come semi time my luck with the bookies will improve (famous last words).