Tuesday 20 August 2019

Club hurling begins

The involvement of David Redmond (left) may be curtailed through injury, while Kevin Sheridan (right) will be hoping to build on a fine year with the champions
The involvement of David Redmond (left) may be curtailed through injury, while Kevin Sheridan (right) will be hoping to build on a fine year with the champions

Brendan Furlong

Oulart-The Ballagh have perfected the art of winning, but not for the first time they will be put to the test when they open the defence of their Pettitt's Senior hurling championship title against arch rivals and neighbours, Buffers Alley, at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.

This game is part of an attractive double-header, with Naomh Eanna having their debut in hurling's top flight when they come up against Glynn-Barntown which will get proceedings under way with a 5 p.m. start.

While it will be good to watch Naomh Eanna's Senior debut, all of the interest will be centred on the second game of an attractive programme, particularly to see how Oulart-The Ballagh will respond following their provincial club success of last year, followed by their All-Ireland semi-final defeat after extra-time to eventual champions Na Piarsaigh (Limerick).

Oulart-The Ballagh's success on the domestic front over the past ten years is unequalled but they open the defence of their title without the injured Shaun Murphy, last year's 'player of the year', while David Redmond could also be missing, which would be a blow to their title prospects.

The Alley have been on the fringes of a breakthrough but for some reason have been unable to fashion results from vital games. Still, with players of the calibre of Andrew and Ciarán Kenny they will make it a difficult initial outing for the titleholders, who still should prevail after a tense battle.

The opening game will see a more experienced Glynn-Barntown come up against Naomh Eanna, and it's this experience which should see them get their campaign off to a winning start.

Four interesting games in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship are also down for decision on Sunday.

The double-header at Clongeen should whet the appetite of football supporters as the last two champions, St. James' and St. Anne's, will be looking to build on their winning start in what is a hugely attractive clash between two big guns.

Both teams collected full points from their initial outing last weekend which adds to the attractiveness of this fixture. When these sides met last year, St. James' ended the interests of then reigning champions, St. Anne's, at the quarter-final stage, and will be looking for a repeat success.

St. James' are determined to show that last year's first title success was not a one-off, while St. Anne's will be anxious to gather both points to cushion their bid for a quarter-final spot prior to their hurling commitments.

The second game will see Gusserane come up against District rivals, Adamstown. It's a game of huge importance for both sides, having lost their opening round ties, as a second defeat would not alone leave them with a struggle for a quarter-final spot but also down in the relegation zone. Gusserane showed the best form and should get their campaign back on track with a victory.

Many people's favourites, last year's beaten finalists, St. Martin's, will face a severe test against Fethard in their game down for decision in Killurin.

St. Martin's head into this tie following a comfortable opening round victory.

They have been doing all the hard work, but left last year bitterly disappointed following their final defeat, so they will be more determined and experienced as they continue on the road towards justifying the tag of favouritism.

Fethard stumbled last year but look back on song this season. They head into this game determined to secure both points, while a victory would also send out warning signals that they are a side to be feared.

Fethard's defensive plan, coming up against an attack-conscious St. Martin's, marks it out as a clash with the potential to provide an intriguing battle.

St. Martin's have their sights set on the title. It will be a surprise should they fail to collect their second brace of points.

On Saturday evening, Horeswood and Starlights meet at O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, with both sides still seeking their first brace of points.

The one place where Horeswood will not want to be is involved in another relegation battle for Senior survival which should be enough to see them gain the points from Starlights, particularly with star attacker, P.J. Banville, back in their ranks for this year's campaign.

They were unlucky to lose to Castletown so should be able to make amends.

Wexford People

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