Two key games Friday in Senior football group
Two massive games are scheduled in Group A of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship on Friday evening, with St. Anne's, Glynn-Barntown and Horeswood all looking to join Castletown and St. James' in the quarter-finals.
In a sense, the equation is simple for all three: win and you're in. That's the only way Horeswood can make the last eight, by beating St. Anne's in Cushinstown (8.30 p.m.). They were limited enough against St. James' in their last outing but were resilient and rugged.
That was almost enough to get them the victory they so badly wanted and it might be good enough to beat St. Anne's too. The Rathangan side were a mess last time out against Castletown but will have their game-changers back and are tipped to edge their way into the quarters with a win.
It should be noted that St. Anne's will qualify with a draw, or a loss if Glynn-Barntown also lose to St. James'. That game will be played simultaneously in Taghmon. The Jimmies wasted plenty of chances against Horeswood but they played reasonably well in spells.
They'll probably prefer to avoid a quarter-final meeting with a St. Martin's side they choked the life out of in last year's county final, plus it would be beneficial to go into the knockout stages with a bit of momentum behind them.
Yet desperation can bring out the best in some teams, especially one like Glynn-Barntown, who have plenty of talent in their ranks. They will only go out if they lose this tie and Horeswood beat St. Anne's, but a draw with St. James' is the pick, enough to see them through.
There's nothing on the line in the other game where Castletown will finish top and Starlights bottom regardless of the outcome (Monamolin, Sunday, 12 noon). Their Juniors remain in championship contention so the Tomahely club don't have much wiggle room, personnel wise, but expect them to win without hitting top gear.
Things are a little different in Group 2 where only third and fourth positions can change. In Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday (5.30 p.m.), Fethard meet Gusserane with the winner taking third in the table and the supposedly easier quarter-final clash, while the loser will finish one place further back.
Fethard were several key players short against Shelmaliers and never threatened to win that game. The sight of their District rivals will lift a performance out of their remaining charges but Gusserane will be keen to hit the knockouts in good form too.
Their poor showing against St. Martin's was un-Gusserane like and they'll be keen to respond. They also have decent scope to improve, as with a talented young nucleus they could be a lively dark horse in the knockouts. Expect them to win with a few points to spare.
St. Martin's face a Sarsfields side which will be on a massive high coming off their dramatic, last-gasp win against Adamstown in the last round. Innovate Wexford Park (7 p.m.) is a natural venue for a match-up that should be open and interesting.
The Piercestown and Murrintown club are worthy championship favourites but they held that tag uneasily last season too. They should win this tie but expect Sars to give them a good test in what will be their final game of the season.
Finally, Shelmaliers against Adamstown in Bellefield on Saturday (7 p.m.) pits two teams with contrasting aspirations. The Hollymount crew dug deep into their reserves to unleash Colin Cleary in the last round and he duly delivered.
Like St. Martin's, Shelmaliers can't improve their position but they do have momentum to play for. Meanwhile, Adamstown are searching for form ahead of their relegation final with Starlights. They are the pick to spring a surprise and move into that decider with plenty of hope.