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5 games to watch out for as Limerick and Tipperary championships part of club hurling return

There are also key hurling matches in Waterford, Wexford and Galway this weekend.

pjimage Padraic Maher, Peter Casey and Conor McDonald all have an interest in this weekend's club action

CLUB HURLING ACTION came back into our sporting lives last weekend with Wexford and Dublin first out of the blocks as their senior championship programmes began.

This weekend sees the activity step up in some of the premier counties around the country and here’s five games worth keeping an eye on.

Galway

  • Saturday: Turloughmore v Liam Mellows, Pearse Stadium, 2pm.

There’s plenty to get stuck into on the hurling front in Galway this weekend but you can make a case for this being a standout fixture. Both these sides lost out to champions St Thomas last year, Liam Mellows in the final by two points and Turloughmore in the semi-final by five points, so they can enter this season armed with hopes for a prolonged campaign.

Liam Mellows have contested the last three senior deciders, celebrating a breakthrough in December 2017, while Turloughmore have enjoyed recent progress in the underage ranks. Galway’s defensive anchor Daithi Burke is part of the players with county experience involved with these clubs.

daithi-burke Galway hurler Daithi Burke Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Limerick

  • Friday: Kilmallock v Na Piarsaigh, LIT Gaelic Grounds, 7.30pm.

The reigning champions Patrickswell open the defence of their title tonight against Adare but it’s tomorrow night’s game that catches the eye. Kilmallock and Na Piarsaigh meet in a heavyweight clash, over the last decade they have won eight titles between them with Na Piarsaigh edging that battle 5-3.

They contested the 2014 final when Kilmallock won before Na Piarsaigh reversed the record in the 2017 final and last September’s semi-final by a margin of 0-23 to 0-18. There’ll be a bunch of recognisable Limerick names in opposition – Casey, Mulcahy and O’Donoghue – with the TG4 cameras present for live coverage of a fixture loaded with potential.

Tipperary

  • Saturday – Thurles Sarsfields v Kilruane MacDonaghs, Holycross, 3pm.

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Thurles Sarsfields ruled the club hurling scene in Tipperary as they accumulated seven crowns between 2009 and 2017 before a couple of barren spells were broken over the past two seasons by Clonoulty-Rossmore and Borris-Ileigh. This weekend’s group stages see Thurles Sarsfields start out against a team they have become acquainted with of late.

It took a dramatic Ronan Maher intervention to strike a late goal to win their 2018 quarter-final against Kilruane MacDonaghs before the Cloughjordan club countered with an emphatic success in the group stage last year that knocked Thurles out. There will be established Tipperary All-Ireland winners featuring in the Maher brothers and Niall O’Meara along with an emerging talent like Cian Darcy. Loughmore-Castleiney and Moycarkey-Borris are the other teams in this group.

Waterford

  • Saturday – De La Salle v Ballysaggart, Fraher Field, Dungarvan, 7pm.

The kingpins Ballygunner, as they have been in the Waterford senior hurling arena since the autumn of 2014, take to the field on Friday evening against Tallow but Saturday’s fixture is a particularly novel one as Ballysaggart get their first taste at senior hurling level.

It will be a momentous occasion for the West Waterford club, powered by the considerable influence of the Bennett brothers, as they make the jump from intermediate to senior. Their opening assignment is against De La Salle, twice beaten finalists in the last three years and the memories of three title triumphs between 2008 and 2012 still fresh in their minds. Kevin Moran, Shane McNulty and Jake Dillon are amongst their county crew. 

stephen-bennett Waterford and Ballysaggart player Stephen Bennett Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Wexford

  • Friday – Naomh Éanna v Rapparees, Chadwicks Wexford Park, 7.30pm.

The action in Wexford already commenced last weekend and with three-team groups the stakes are high for Round 2. Last year’s semi-finalists Rapparees lost to Shelmaliers last weekend by five points which heightens the need for a positive out come for them here. The absence of Wexford defensive cornerstone Liam Ryan was a major loss for Rapparees. 2018 champions Naomh Éanna, the club of Conor McDonald and Cathal Dunbar, are set for their first championship outing of the summer.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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