First Four Clubs Secure Places AIB Leinster Club SHC
The only Laois representatives to have won the Leinster Club SHC recently became the first side to begin preparations for this season’s campaign.
Camross, who secured Leinster glory in the 1976/’77 and 1996/’97 seasons, claimed their 25th county title with a thrilling 3-14 to 1-19 victory over Clough-Ballacolla at O’Moore Park on Sunday, 24th September.
Goals from Niall Holmes, Dwayne Palmer and Mark Dowling, together with five points by Zane Keenan, helped Camross progress to a first round Leinster Club SHC fixture versus Mount Leinster Rangers of Carlow on 5th November.
The semi-finals in Carlow brought an end to St Mullin’s stranglehold on the title, as they lost by three points to Mount Leinster Rangers – the club that famously captured the Leinster Club SHC title in 2013. And Mount Leinster Rangers followed up on 15th October with a comprehensive victory over Naomh Eoin in the final, by 3-17 to 0-17, the goals coming from Kevin McDonald, Diarmuid Byrne and Denis Murphy.
The top half of the provincial championship draw will also see a Westmeath v Offaly derby, following county championship victories Castletown-Geoghegan and Kilcormac-Killoughey on Sunday, 1st October.
Both victories were similar on two fronts – they each defeated the reigning champions and looked on course to do so easily until forced to withstand late comebacks.
Castletown-Geoghegan built up a 1-11 to 0-5 interval lead, but were eventually delighted to get over the line by 1-18 to 1-16. County captain Aonghus Clarke inspired his side with a personal tally of 0-12.
Meanwhile, at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, Kilcormac/ Killoughey surged into a 2-10 to 0-5 advantage at the half way stage, having been backed by a strong breeze. St Rynagh’s left it until the closing quarter to come charging back, but K-K held on to win by 2-16 to 1-16 and will now set their sights on another provincial crown.
The Wexford champions have a bye in the first round of the provincial campaign, where they will meet either the Dublin and Kilkenny representatives. Reigning champions Oulart The-Ballagh are back in the decider again, having beaten Rapparees by 2-18 to 0-18 in a semi-final, and they will now face St Martin’s who got the better of Naomh Eanna by 2-18 to 1-14.
County, Leinster and All-Ireland Club champions Cuala are still in contention for honours in Dublin, which is now at the semi-final stage. Cuala were pushed all the way by St Brigid’s in the quarter-final on Sunday, 8th October, before advancing by 3-14 to 2-15. In the other quarter-finals, St Vincent’s beat Craobh Chiarain by 2-14 to 1-10; Kilmacud Crokes edged past Na Fianna by 0-17 to 0-15; and Lucan Sarsfields also had a two point winning margin over Ballyboden St Enda’s, 2-12 to 0-16. The semi-final pairings are: Cuala v St Vincent’s; Kilmacud Crokes v Lucan Sarsfields.
Remarkably, three of the four quarter-finals in Kilkenny ended all square on the first weekend of October, when only reigning champions O’Loughlin Gaels progressed to the penultimate round, with a 1-19 to 0-13 victory over Erins Own.
Subsequently, Dicksboro knocked out O’Loughlin Gaels in the semi-final by 1-14 to 0-14, and James Stephens’ had a big win over Ballyhale Shamrocks in the other semi-final, on a score of 3-16 to 1-12.
(All the Leinster Club SHC fixtures are in the ‘Championships’ section of www.leinstergaa.ie)
Several Clubs Booking Places In Leinster Club SFC
Make-or-break games are coming thick and fast in all 11 counties that will be represented in the 2017 AIB Leinster Club Senior Football Championship, and the picture is becoming clearer after another five finals on Sunday, 15th October.
St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta actually became the first club confirmed for the provincial championship after retaining their Longford crown on Sunday, 8th October. They defeated Abbeylara by 0-13 to 1-7 at Glennon Bros Pearse Park, with James and David McGivney chipping in with crucial scores late on.
The Dublin champions will once again be favourites to claim the title, and the final is pencilled in for Bank Holiday Monday, 30th October between the formidable outfits of St Vincent’s and Ballymun Kickhams, who were too strong at the semi-final stage for St Jude’s and Kilmacud Crokes, respectively.
In Offaly, last year’s beaten provincial finalists, Rhode completed back-to-back county triumphs for the first time since 2006 with a 0-12 to 0-9 victory old rivals Clara at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park on Sunday, 15th October.
Rhode will take on Laois champions, Portlaoise in the first round of the Leinster Club SFC on 29th October. Portlaoise have bounced back from their agonising defeat to Stradbally in last year’s decider and captured their 10th final in 11 years with a 3-13 to 0-10 defeat of Ballylinan at O’Moore Park.
St Columba’s, Mullinalaghta will have home advantage in the first round against the Carlow champions. Palatine’s bid for a third title in a row came to an end when beaten by Eire Og at the semi-final stage. Therefore, Eire Og were probably slight favourites for the final, but were forced to come from behind to draw with Rathvilly in the decider on 8th October. The final score was Eire Og 0-12, Rathvilly 1-9, and the replay has been confirmed for Sunday, 22nd October.
2016 champions have fallen in other Leinster counties also. In Louth, Sean O’Mahony’s lost a quarter-final replay to Dundalk Gaels, who subsequently edged past Naomh Martin by 0-15 to 1-11 to earn a place in the final on 15th October against Newtown Blues, who had six points to spare over St Joseph’s in their penultimate round tie. Newtown Blues were always in control of the final, which they won by 2-10 to 0-5.
There’ll be new champions in Wexford also, with St Martin’s still in the hunt for a senior double. In the semi-finals on 1st October, Starlights beat Castletown by 2-12 to 1-12, but Shelmaliers and St Martin’s were deadlocked at the final whistle and in the replay, St Martin’s progressed by 1-14 to 2-4.
And in Kildare, 2016 winners Sarsfields also failed to retain their crown. Instead, their neighbours Moorefield have regained the title, achieving a 0-13 to 0-9 success in the final over Celbridge, despite having two players sent off.
Action is also hotting up in the Royal County, where reigning champions Simonstown Gaels were too strong for Wolfe Tones in the semi-final by 4-9 to 1-13. Summerhill beat Gael Colmcille by 1-15 to 0-9 in the other semi-final.
In Wicklow, 2017 kingpins Baltinglass lost out to Rathnew in the semi-final on Sunday, 8th October, and Rathnew went on to beat Blessington in the decider by 3-9 to 0-12.
And finally, in Westmeath, St Loman’s have been the dominant force in the last couple of seasons and are comfortably through to the finals, where they will meet Tyrrellspass for the second successive year.
(All the Leinster Club SFC fixtures are in the ‘Championships’ section of www.leinstergaa.ie)