A busy weekend of AIB Leinster Club action is on the horizon, with the Junior and Intermediate Clubs taking centre stage on Saturday, followed by three quarter-final ties in the Senior Hurling Championship on Sunday.
Kilcormac-Killoughey (Offaly) v Castletown-Geoghegan (Westmeath)
The gap has been narrowing between Offaly and Westmeath teams on the hurling fields in recent seasons and the trend could continue at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park this Sunday.
Kilcormac-Killoughey will take heart from the fact that following their only previous Offaly SHC triumphs – a three in a row between 2012 and 2014 – they went on to reach the provincial final twice.
Leinster Champions in ’12 and beaten finalists two years later, the club are now managed by Stephen Byrne, who lined out between the posts for KK, and Offaly, for several years.
He masterminded a 2-16 to 1-16 victory over reigning champions St Rynagh’s in the Offaly final, with Ciaran Slevin and Thomas Geraghty recording the all-important goals and Daniel Currams making a huge impact following and earlier than expected return from injury.
Castletown Geoghegan also defeated the reigning champions in the Westmeath final. They dominated the early exchanges against Raharney and led by 1-11 to 0-5 at half time. County captain Aonghus Clarke starred with a person tally of 0-12 (0-8 frees) though he is abroad at present and not expected back for the game.
Nevertheless, captain, Liam Varley and his team mates will be looking forward to competing in Leinster for the first time since 2013, when they only bowed out to eventual champions Mount Leinster Rangers by two points. Castletown-Geoghegan is an area steeped in hurling history and have secured 13 Westmeath SHC titles since 1923, winning at least one every decade since the 1950s.
Camross (Laois) v Mount Leinster Rangers (Carlow)
The only representatives from Laois and Carlow to have won the Leinster Club Senior Hurling Championship will meet at O’Moore Park this Sunday.
Camross defeated Clough/ Ballacolla by 3-14 to 1-19 in the county final and will now aspire to emulate the heroes from the club who captured provincial honours in 1976 and 1996.
Mount Leinster Rangers, too, will hope that regaining the Carlow title will lead to another fairytale season, just like the 2013/’14 campaign which culminated in an All-Ireland final appearance on St Patrick’s Day.
Defeated in the Carlow final for the past two seasons, Mount Leinster Rangers regained the silverware with a convincing 3-17 to 0-17 victory over Naomh Eoin last month.
Always in control at Netwatch Cullen Park, they led by 1-12 to 0-7 at the interval, with Kevin McDonald netting the goal. Diarmuid Byrne and Denis Murphy also raised green flags in the second half as they finished with nine points to spare.
Camross have now won two Laois finals this decade, but their triumph four years ago was followed by a quarter-final defeat by Kilcormac-Killoughey. Their thrilling win over Clough/ Ballacolla featured goals by Niall Holmes, Dwayne Palmer and substitute Mark Dowling, while Zane Keegan chipped in with five points.
Cuala (Dublin) v Dicksboro (Kilkenny)
These two clubs only captured their county titles last weekend. Cuala completed a three-in-a-row in Dublin last Saturday and, 24 hours later, Dicksboro lifted the cup in Kilkenny for the first time since 1993.
It can be taken for granted that the reigning Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland champions won’t have allowed their celebrations to interfere with their ambitions to go from strength to strength.
And from the Kilkenny champions’ point of view, there is enough experience in their ranks to realise that an opportunity to build on their progress shouldn’t be spurned.
Last year, Cuala defeated O’Loughlin Gaels in the Leinster final, but the draw has pitted these heavy-hitters on the same side of the draw, with the winners progressing to a semi-final versus St Martin’s of Wexford.
Cuala beat Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin decider by 1-13 to 0-13, with goalscorer Darragh O’Connell, David Treacy and Con O’Callaghan among their top performers.
The following afternoon, Dicksboro defeated James Stephens in a frenetic Kilkenny final by 4-15 to 4-10, having led by 3-10 to 1-4 at one stage. Inspired by Kilkenny star Cillian Buckley, Dicksboro’s goals were registered by Oisin Gough (2), Bill Sheehan and Martin Gaffney.
11 Intermediate And Junior Games On Saturday
No fewer than 11 AIB Leinster Intermediate and Junior Football and Hurling games are fixed for on Saturday, 4th November.
The Junior Championships in both codes are already at the semi-final stage, so a coveted place in a provincial final is within touching distance for the clubs involved.
Here’s a look at the all the fixtures that are scheduled for this Saturday, 4th November:
AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Quarter Finals
Pairc Tailteann, Navan (2.00): Kiltale (Meath) v The Harps (Laois)
St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge (2.00): Ardclough (Kildare) v St Patrick’s, Ballyragget (Kilkenny)
Parnell Park (2.00): Thomas Davis v Glenealy (Wicklow)
AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Football Quarter Finals
Pairc Ui Siochain, Gorey (2.00): Killanerin (Wexford) v Raheens (Kildare)
Durrow, Offaly (2.00): Durrow (Offaly) v St Mary’s Rochfortbridge (Westmeath)
Emo (2.00): Emo (Laois) v Ballyboughal (Dublin)
Castlebellingham (2.00): O’Connell’s (Louth) v Curragha (Meath)
AIB Leinster Club Junior Football Semi Finals
Bellefield (3.00): Crossabeg Ballymurn (Wexford) v Multyfarnham (Westmeath)
Pullough (2.00): Erin Rovers v Meath Hill (Meath)
AIB Leinster Club Junior Hurling Semi Finals
O’Toole Park (2.00): Erin’s Isle (Dublin) v St Mogue’s Fethard (Wexford)
St Loman’s, Mullingar (2.00): Fr. Dalton’s (Westmeath) v John Locke’s (Kilkenny)