Glenmore & Dicksboro primed for Round 4
BY NIALL SHERRY, SPORTS EDITOR
St. Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League-Championship 2023
After a little bit of downtime, it’s back down to business this weekend as the St Canice’s Credit Union Senior Hurling League Championship reaches Round 4. At senior level, Glenmore and Dicksboro have been setting the early pace, and are the only unbeaten sides in the competition.
There has been much talk about who might be best placed to throw down the gauntlet to Shamrocks Ballyhale’s quest for a sixth consecutive county title, and at this stage both group leaders will fancy their chances of giving it a real good crack this season. In terms of a league final pairing, the prospect of a Glenmore vs Dicksboro clash is one to whet the appetite.
The current holders have been known to start their season slowly, and this has been the case since the club season resumed. This weekend, Pat Hoban’s charges head to Thomastown to tackle Bennettsbridge (Sunday 2pm). Tim Dooley’s side have had decent league campaigns over the last couple of seasons and have an identical record to this weekend’s opponents after the opening 3 rounds of fixtures.
The Bridge have been quite tight in defence, and have the best record across both groups. It’s on at the other end that things perhaps haven’t been quite as fluid. Only The men from Castlecomer have troubled the umpire’s flags less across the three games played this season. Dooley will hope that the reliable Nicky Cleere and Sean Morrissey will be ably supported by Stephen Holden and Jack Campion as they seek upset Shamrocks on Sunday. The recent return to club action of County star David Blanchfield will have provided a timely boost to Bennettsbridge and this should give them another great option as the season progresses.
Following their win last time out, TJ Reid spoke about how that had hoped to have 6 points on the board by the break. As they prepare to meet the Bridge, they have half that total and will hope to show further improvement with two games remaining as they know the chasing pack are lining up to try and knock them down. County men, TJ, Adrian and Eoin were very prominent in their recent win over Graigue Ballycallan, scoring the majority of their sides total and will look to lead the way.
Group A leaders and unbeaten Glenmore take on Graigue Ballycallan in John Locke Park tonight and will hope to continue their good form when they tackle Eugene Cloonan’s men. The Pairc na Ratha based side have looked like a well-drilled unit so far this season and have a great blend of skill and grit in equal quantities that has seen them win their first three outings.
Bob Aylward will hope that the Murphy brothers will pick up where they left off and drive Glenmore on again. County netminder Eoin is so comfortable playing the crucial ‘6’ role that you forget his intercounty exploits between the sticks! With Shane driving forward instigating many attacks and Alan deadly accurate from the placed ball, the Murphy clan provide a great platform for the like of the hugely talented Ian Byrne, Dean Croke and Cathal Beirne to shine in front of goal.
The Tom Ryall Park men will take to the pitch knowing that they could find themselves in another relegation shoot-out, having got the better of Lisdowney last season. Standout performer, Billy Ryan will need others round him to step up and try and secure further points to lift the pressure. There is a good blend of youth and experience in the current side, and the likes of Ryan Corcoran, Colum Prenderville, Aaron McEvoy and the placed ball man, Sean Ryan will look to step up for the Tommy Ronan led side.
Brian Cody’s Village side will hope to secure a second win when the go into battle with the men from Castlecomer in Muckalee this evening. Having secured a share of the spoils against the Bridge during storm Betty in their most recent game, the legendary boss will hope that less testing conditions may prove fruitful against Erins Own. Key forward Eoin Guilfoyle can be relied on to keep the scoreboard ticking over, while the talented Cian Kenny can inspire this James Stephens – to keep progressing.
Tonight’s opponents, Erins Own have just the 1-point to show for their endeavors, and that was a draw with holders Shamrocks Ballyhale, and in truth it’s hard to see Sean Dempsey’s outfit getting enough points on the board to avoid being involved in relegation matters in the coming weeks. The ‘Comer men are heavily reliant on the placed ball shooting of Jack Buggy and will look to Conor’s Delaney and Fogarty to try and kickstart their push off the bottom of Group A.
Group B trailblazers, Dicksboro will look to cement their place at the top when they face-off against Mullinavat tomorrow in Dunnamaggin. Michael Walsh’s men have been mightily impressive so far this season, currently the top scorers across both groups, and second only to Tim Dooleys Bennettsbridge in terms of scores conceded. The Palmerstown outfit have looked well drilled and well coached as they racked up 3 from 3. Leading the way is young Harry Shine. The talented attacker has been causing plenty of problems to opposition defences and he will look to continue this trend against the Vegas Boys. Harry has good company in Cillian Hackett and Mark Nolan and when you factor in Andy Gaffney and Liam Moore, you can see how captain Bill Sheehan leads his side with great hope.
Mullinavat’s mission to pull away from Danesfort at the bottom of Group B doesn’t get any easier, and it’s hard to build a case for Colm O’Byrne’s side doing so tomorrow. Having got maximum points from their match with Danesfort, defeats to Tullaroan and O’Loughlin’s followed, the former saw the ‘Vat concede 6-21 and this certainly gave them food for thought. Their final group game with Clara could well determine who finishes in the relegation places.
Brian Hogan’s will be keen to see his O’Loughlin’s side claim maximum points when they take on Clara in Gowran tomorrow. Hogan will be acutely aware that The Sash are on their tails and any slip-up could see Ken Coogan’s charges overtake them as both sides look to secure 2nd place in Group B. Paddy Deegan and co should have too much quality for Clara, but as you well know, taking things for granted can sometimes lead to getting turned over, but multiple All-Ireland winner Hogan, will do his best to ensure that his city side maintain focus and record their 3rd win of this season’s campaign.
Tullaroan face Danesfort this weekend and will hope to add to their impressive scoring record in Castlecomer. It has been more than a rude awakening for Willie Coogan’s side on their return to the top table, but the experienced boss knows that bringing through up and coming players in the cauldron of senior hurling. Paul Murphy and Richie Hogan will undoubtably inspire the younger generation like Daire O’Neill, Ben Whitty and Des Dunne. Manager Coogan knows that it’s a difficult path remaining in the league but is confident that come championship his side will be more competitive.
The Sash and their strong spine that we spoke about last week should possess too much for Danesfort. While the name Walsh continues to impress, Shane has been the standout of the clan and looks primed to do damage at the home or Erins Own. Should the unlikely happen and Dicksboro slip up, Tullaroan will want to well placed to take advantage.
When this round of fixtures is complete, we will know what’s at stake come Round 5 at both ends of tables. It’s heating up nicely.