Sunday 17 December 2017

Ten clubs out of 16 to contest last four in both codes

On the Line with Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

I've just returned after a two-week break from work book-ended by attendance at the two All-Ireland Senior finals.

The hurling highlighted the sport in its purest form, as the two teams set up with attack as the priority and we were treated to some brilliant scores.

It doesn't get much better than amassing a tally of 2-29 in the course of denying a superb team three titles in a row, and Tipperary deserve immense plaudits for playing the game in such an attractive manner given the prevalence of sweepers and defensive systems which are alien to my concept of hurling.

Considering the ball can travel from one end of the field to the other so quickly, it's soul-destroying to see some counties inhibiting their own attacking talent by setting up with extra defenders.

Just look back on some of the superb goals Waterford scored in the course of their All-Ireland Under-21 final demolition of Galway.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see their Senior management deploying the same attacking abandon in 2017 and allowing the type of natural talent and flair deployed so brilliantly by the Bennett brothers in particular to blossom?

Turning to Sunday's football final, I must say that it was one of the most gripping and absorbing deciders I have attended in a long time.

There appears to be mixed views regarding the quality of the game, with many onlookers focusing primarily on the numerous errors made by both teams.

However, I always find that actually attending a game in person is a lot different than viewing it at home on television, and I was thoroughly engrossed in it from start to finish, warts and all. Roll on the replay on October 1!

As for the domestic scene, our blitz-like adult championships have continued unabated in my absence, and we are now down to the last four in practically all of the main grades.

Eleven of the twelve semi-finals in the six football competitions will be played this coming weekend, with the hurling action to follow in early October.

Here's one interesting statistic to consider: of the 16 clubs involved in the Senior, Intermediate, Intermediate 'A' and Junior football penultimate rounds, no fewer than ten of them have also reached the same stage with their first hurling team.

This point is worth highlighting given our standing as a dual county, but more importantly in light of the constant claim in some quarters that it's impossible to be successful in both codes.

The current situation would suggest that the opposite is in fact the case, certainly at club level at least where progress in one sport tends to complement the other.

For the record, three of the Senior hurling semi-finalists will have football games at the same stage this coming weekend: Glynn-Barntown (Senior), Ferns St. Aidan's (Intermediate) and Cloughbawn (Intermediate 'A').

Two more of the Intermediate football semi-finalists also have a keen interest in how the hurling unfolds, namely Taghmon-Camross (Intermediate 'A') and Bannow-Ballymitty (Junior).

All four of the teams left in Intermediate 'A' football are still engaged in hurling, with Cloughbawn joined by Crossabeg-Ballymurn (Intermediate), Craanford (Intermediate) and Duffry Rovers (Intermediate 'A').

Oylegate-Glenbrien will be looking to reach finals in Intermediate hurling and Junior football, while Gusserane will quickly turn from Sunday's Senior football semi-final to a Junior hurling derby against Bannow-Ballymitty.

Success is definitely breeding success at club level, with the constant switching of codes from one week to the next embraced by all of the teams mentioned above.

The draws for the hurling semi-finals, made on Saturday, threw up a major window of opportunity in particular for Cloughbawn and Glynn-Barntown who have been pitted together at Senior level for the first time at that stage since 1997.

However, the stand-out fixture for me is Crossabeg-Ballymurn versus Oylegate-Glenbrien in Intermediate. Expect skin and hair to fly in that one!

Wexford People

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