BY MICHAEL O’LEARY
The Kilkenny Football Team are shaping up for what they hope will be another big weekend within the county, as they will attempt to defend their All-Ireland Junior crown they won last year.
Tonight (Friday), in a repeat of last years Semi-Final Kilkenny play London at 7.15pm in The All-Ireland Junior Semi-Final in The GAA Centre of Excellence in Abbotstown, and that will be preceded by The clash of New York and Warwickshire at 5.30pm.
If Kilkenny win tonight, they will play The All-Ireland Final on Sunday once again as a curtain raiser to an All-Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final as Kerry play Derry.
Football has been busy throughout The County over The past 5 months since February with several Club matches played in Senior, Intermediate and Junior, with The Senior County Final played two weeks ago that was won by Mullinavat
In a final that produced a thrilling conclusion, Mullinavat won 3-7 to 1-9 against Thomastown as late goals by Liam Fennelly and Oisin Knox secured their 7th Senior Football crown.
In last years All-Ireland Junior Championship, Kilkenny won their Semi-Final 3-11 to 2-9 against London before defeating New York 3-12 to 1-9 in the decider in Croke Park.
In that Semi-Final, Mick Kenny and Team Captain Mick Malone accounted for 3-7 of their sides total, while Mick Kenny starred again in The Final with 1-4 of the overall total.
Four-times All-Ireland Senior Medal winner Paul Murphy was part of The Kilkenny Team last year, and he acheived the unique distinction of having won Hurling and Football All-Irelands with The Black and Amber.
Last years All-Ireland Triumph was most memorable for Kilkenny, with The Final played as a curtain raiser to the epic All-Ireland Semi-Final clash between Kerry and Dublin,
The All-Ireland Junior Championship provides a perfect opportunity for Kilkenny to win Silverware in a level playing field, and with the competition restricted largely to overseas teams, it provides a perfect incentive for players to tog out for the county.
The Semi-Finalists are made up of Kilkenny, New York, along with The British Junior Finalists London and Warwickshire.
Warwickshire have already defeated London twice in The British Junior Championship, both in The Group Stages and in The British Junior Final as Warwickshire won 1-18 to 1-15.
London have won The Junior Football All-Ireland on 6 previous occassions with their last triumph coming back in 1986 against Cork.
After a number years of threatening to make a breakthrough, New York Senior Footballers managed to upset the odds in April when defeating Leitrim on Penalties in The Connacht Senior Football Championship.
However, both London and New York won’t be as strong as their Senior counterparts that competed in both The Connacht Championship and Tailteann Cup.
Having the experience of winning last years All-Ireland, hopes are high that success can be replicated this year.