BY NIALL SHERRY
All pix: Danny Lahart
Glenmore blood in both camps as Naas seek cats scalp
2021 AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship semi final
Naas Hurling Club vs Glenmore
Newbridge 1:00 PM
It’s Newbridge or nowhere tomorrow for Glenmore and their travelling army of supporters, as Declan Wall’s team bid for a place in this year’s AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship final.
The Kilkenny Intermediate champions can expect a vociferous challenge when they face Nass at the home of Kildare GAA tomorrow.
Naas are a huge club. They have over 80 teams participating across Football, hurling and camogie. This year has seen success at county level for both their senior footballers and intermediate hurlers, with both teams involved in semi-final action in their respective tournaments.
Adding a little more spice to tomorrow’s hurling semi-final, is the fact that Naas are managed by Glenmore native Tom Mullally. These fixtures have a habit of throwing up little side stories such as this one!
Mullally is also the Carlow hurling manager, and it is with one of its most revered teams that he excelled at club level. In 2013 the Glenmore man led Mount Leinster Rangers to the Leinster senior title, and to the All-Ireland club final, where they lost out to Portumna. A brother of former Kilkenny players Richie and Paddy, he coached Clara in Kilkenny to the 2013 county senior — their first in 27 years. He was Wexford U21 manager in 2018, steering them to the Leinster final, though they lost to Galway in the star-studded clash.
So Tom knows what it takes to get over the line at the highest level in club hurling, and no doubt, he will have a plan to try and derail his home clubs attempts to reach this seasons intermediate final.
Naas completed their 3-in-a-row county titles by staging a great comeback to defeat Celbridge last month. Their captain Brian Byrne, is a dual player, and was part of the senior football side that won their first county title in over 30 years recently. Byrne scored 2-29 across the county competition.
The Kildare champions scored heavily in their county championship, amassing an impressive 25-128 scoring total, and conceding just 5-56 in the six games played. Corner-forward Jack Sheridan, incidentally, a cousin of their captain, is their main marksman, the talented attacker notched 6-35 in their run to the county title.
Glenmore will need to be disciplined in the tackle, as Sheridan is deadly accurate from the placed ball. It could well be Sean Duggan that has the role of picking up the Naas danger man, and he may need the help of others to nullify Sheridan’s threat. James Burke, Cathal Dowling and Shane Ryan have also registered decent tallies in their sides march to Leinster.
In midfield, Naas will look to Simon Lacey to occupy Philly Roche and Billy Reid. Lacey scored the all-important goal in their county final win. In defence, full-back Richard Hogan has been hugely impressive, and will be assisted at wing-back by the hard-working Kevin Whelan.
In their recent Leinster quarter-final against Dublin champions, Castleknock, Mullally’s men made light work of the capital side, winning 1-21 to 1-6. It should be noted that the Dublin side played with 14 men for three-quarters of the game.
Ok, enough about Naas.
Glenmore come into this semi-final on the back of a quarter-final win over Laois side Ballinakill. While not at their free-flowing best, Declan Wall’s men showed enough to suggest that there is still plenty left in the tank, and another gear of two to go up, if and when required.
During their run to this stage, Glenmore have been ticking along nicely. Let’s start with the Murphy’s. Alan has been precision personified from the placed ball and Mullally will have his side warned not to present many opportunities to Alan. In Defence, his bothers Shane and Eoin have been instrumental in helping Glenmore return to the top table of Kilkenny club hurling. Eoin’s reading of the game and ability to drive forward and deliver quality ball to his forwards is a thing of beauty. Meanwhile, Shane will marshal the defence from wing-back and can be utilised as a man-marker if the job requires it.
Roche and Reid in the engine room will give their opponents plenty to think about and won’t be found wanting if things get hot and heavy.
The front six of the Kilkenny intermediate champions possess an array of talent and skills that will trouble the best back lines in the country. Led by captain Ger Aylward at full-forward, who notched 1-3 from play last time out, the forward unit can have a huge say in the winning of tomorrow’s game.
Ger’s brother Mark, will run all day and will provide great support from a deeper position. Liam Hennessey, who by his own standards was quiet in the quart-final win, can call the shots from No.11. Robbie Fitz will buzz around all over the place and get on plenty of ball. This should mean that the likes of Ger and Ian Byrne get plenty of chances to trouble the score board.
This one has the makings of a real ding-dong battle. Let’s hope there is only one Glenmore man on the losing side on Saturday evening. #hontheglenG