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Dublin: 2°C Monday 25 January 2021

Battle of the Sars for Munster final place

There’s club hurling action tomorrow in the southern province in Thurles and Sixmilebridge while the county title will be decided on Noreside.

Thurles Sarsfields Padraic Maher
Thurles Sarsfields Padraic Maher
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

THERE IS A good omen for the teams on the road for tomorrow’s Munster club senior hurling semi-finals.

Over the past three seasons, spanning seven games, no home team has won a game in the competition.

That will provide comfort for a Sarsfields team who are bidding for a place in their first ever final against Thurles Sarsfields in Thurles. While Waterford’s De La Salle head to Sixmilebridge to pit themselves against Clare’s Newmarket-On-Fergus.

Here’s a look ahead to both those games as well as the county senior hurling final in Kilkenny between Ballyhale Shamrocks and Dicksboro.

Munster Club SHC semi-finals
Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) v Sarsfields (Cork)
Semple Stadium, Thurles, 2pm, (Ref: Michael Wadding, Waterford)

There is a strong theme here of clubs trying to translate local success into provincial success. Thurles Sarsfields have won three of the last four Tipperary county titles while Sarsfields have collected three of the last five Cork crowns.

Yet neither have managed to win a Munster title in their history and only Thurles Sarsfields have managed to contest a final and that was just once – in 2010. There will be a determination on both sides to demonstrate progression now.

Thurles Sarsfields displayed their intentions with a 2-12 to 0-15 win over Kilmallock in their Munster quarter-final tie a fortnight ago. Their inter-county core of Padraic Maher, Michael Cahill, Pa Bourke and Lar Corbett provide obvious class but it is the emergence of young guns like Stephen Maher and Aidan McCormack that offers them greater encouragement that there is balance to their team.

Cork side Sarsfields, under the tutelage of 1999 All-Ireland senior winner Pat Ryan, are ambitious as well. They will rue the loss of Wexford’s Eanna Martin through injury as he has added much to their defence. But his fellow county man Eoin Quigley has been a major addition at midfield.

Coupled with the impact being made by Conor O’Sullivan, Ray Ryan and Daniel Kearney, they have a decent chance here. And if the likes of Michael Cussen and Robert O’Driscoll can assist chief scorer Cian McCarthy, they have the capacity to progress.

Verdict: Sarsfields
Betting: Thurles Sarsfields 1/2, Sarsfields 15/8, Draw  9/1

Newmarket-on-Fergus (Clare) v De La Salle (Waterford)
Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm, (Ref: Johnny Ryan, Tipperary)
Newmarket-on-Fergus have a fine Munster club hurling pedigree, albeit not a recent one. They won provincial finals in 1967 and 1968 before losing the deciders of 1973, 1974 and 1978. Yet they now return to the Munster club stage for the first time since 1981 and it is little wonder then their recent Clare county title win was received so rapturously.

After breaking that barren spell, the key question is to whether their appetite for success has been sated for this year? They certainly possess talent with defenders James McInerney and Enda Barrett along with attackers Colin Ryan and David Barrett all having worn Clare jerseys with distinction.
In contrast their opponents on Sunday possess plenty recent experience. De La Salle have never lost a Munster club hurling game, winning silverware in their forays in 2008 and 2010. There is no secret that they have their eye trained on bigger prizes this season with tomorrow being the first step along a route they hope will culminate in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

This is an awkward hurdle for them to surmount, particularly given the distance they have to travel. But in Kevin Moran, John Mullane, Jake Dillon and Stephen Daniels, they have a blend that can propel them forward.

Verdict: De La Salle
Betting: Newmarket-on-Fergus 7/4, De La Salle 8/15, Draw 9/1

Henry Shefflin celebrates scoring a point during the county semi-final. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Kilkenny SHC final: Ballyhale Shamrocks v Dicksboro
Nowlan Park, 2.30pm, (Ref: Gavin Quilty, Kilkenny)
Ballyhale Shamrocks are accustomed to facing Kilkenny city clubs in county finals. In 2008 and 2009 they defeated James Stephens before losing out to the same side last year while in 2006 they had defeated O’Loughlin Gaels. Meeting Dicksboro is a novel occasion as the third club based in Kilkenny city contest their first decider since 1994 and seek their first title since 1993.

Dicksboro’s rise to prominence, which has seen them topple St Martin’s and Tullaroan recently, is founded on youth. Cillian Buckley is their best-known player but they had four others involved with the Kilkenny U21′s that reached the All-Ireland final this year – Martin Gaffney, Ollie Walsh, Danny Kenny and David Glynn. Eight of their team are U21 and they enter this game in flying form.

Yet Ballyhale Shamrocks have the experience. This is their seventh final appearance in eight years and they are searching for their fifth crown in that time frame. TJ Reid may be missing but a team with Henry Shefflin, Michael and Colin Fennelly, and James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick on board is difficult to discount.

Verdict: Ballyhale Shamrocks
Betting: Ballyhale Shamrocks 1/6, Dicksboro 9/2, Draw 14/1

We’ll be live from Semple Stadium for Sunday’s meeting between Thurles Sarsfields and Sarsfields, join us for minute-by-minute coverage.

2012 Munster Club SHC team-by-team guide

2012 Leinster Club SHC team-by-team guide

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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