There are seven teams left in this years AIB club championship. This week on blog GAA beo we decided to take a look at the contenders for the Tommy Moore cup. It is still early enough in the competition to make some money from picking the winner so now seemed like the perfect time for this.
1) Thurles Sarsfields
The thirty two times Tipperary champions, have never managed to win the Munster championship never mind the All Ireland. This year appears to be different though, even before their Munster semi final win over Sarsfields of Cork all the talk was of capturing the Munster title. Tipperary made a slightly earlier than usual exit from the championship this year and that has helped to galvanize the squad. Another plus for Sars is the return to form of one Lar Corbett if his goal two weeks ago is anything to go by he is very close to being back to his best. The release of his book has been a welcome distraction and he has scored a goal in both games he has played since its release. With Michael Cahill, Pa Bourke and team captain Paudie Maher driving this team on All Ireland glory is a real possibility for this team. Lack of experience when it comes to the later stages of the competition would be their biggest stumbling block.
Next opponents : De La Salle in the Munster final
2) Ballyhale Shamrocks
As you would might expect the Kilkenny champions Ballyhale Shamrocks are the bookies favorites to be walking up the steps of the Hogan stand next March. Two weeks ago they claimed their 14th County title, with a less than sensational win over Dicksboro. Shefflin missed two penalties and failed to score from play but they still had too much for the second best team in Kilkenny (a scary statement in its self) . With the Fennelly brothers and James “ Cha” Fitzpatrick, they will prove very hard to beat, but they might just fall short against Thurles Sarsfields should they meet.
Next opponents: Oulart- The- Ballagh in the Leinster Semi final
3) Loughgiel Shamrocks
Last years surprise winners of the All Ireland are back again to prove what they did last year was no fluke. While every All Ireland is great to win, they won last years one with out beating any of the big teams. They beat first time Limerick Champions Na Piarsaigh in the All Ireland semi and first time Leinster champions Coolderry in the final. Winning an All Ireland with out beating a Tipp, Cork or Kilkenny team on route will always be seen as “a handy one”. Having beaten St Patricks of Down in the Ulster final by 18 points the team will be in high spirits but like every team coming out of Ulster it is very hard to judge them with out seeing them play a team from down the south.
4) De La Salle
The 2010 Munster club champions, blasted through the Waterford championship beating Dungarvan 1-21 to 12 points in the final. Their Munster semi was a much closer affair and they were lucky to get out of Sixmilebridge with a win thanks to an injury time John Keane goal. John Mullane is the key man for De la Salle and the five time All Star has been excellent so far this year and as with Waterford when he plays well, the team play well. Kevin Moran and the O’ Mahony’s will also have a big say on how far their team progress. If De La Salle can get past Thurles next Sunday they could have a major say in the competition. The Waterford city boys have never lost a Munster championship game so playing at this level of competition will not phase them.
Next opponents: Thurles Sarsfields in the Munster final
5) St Thomas
St Thomas’s survived the battle of Salthill last weekend and after getting through that they will be full of confidence. They will not face a tougher physical battle for the rest of the year. Any team with six brothers on the panel is always going to be a close knit group and they showed that through out the championship. After losing their first game of the championship to last years Galway champions Gort, St. Thomas’s have gone seven games undefeated. County players David Burke, Conor Cooney, James Regan and Darragh Burke make up the back bone of the side. The Galway representatives have traditionally been very strong in the latter part of the All Ireland series. Galway club champions have won the All Ireland more than any other county champions, wining it eleven times in total.
6) Oulart the Ballagh
The Wexford champions breezed through their county championship, winning all eight games to claim their tenth county title and third in a row. In the Leinster semi final under terrible conditions, Oulart started excellently against the Dublin champions Kilmacud Crokes. They faded badly in the second half and were lucky to hold on in the end. They had eight players on the Wexford squad that were knocked out of this year’s championship by Cork. Six of them started Paul Roche, Keith Rossiter, Darren Stamp, David Redmond, Garrett Sinnott, Rory Jacob. Eoin Moore and Shaun Murphy were on the bench that day. They face a huge challenge against Ballyhale on Sunday, and it is hard to see them going any further in the championship. However it is when a Wexford team is written off , is when they are at their most dangerous.
Next opponents: Ballyhale Shamrocks in the Leinster Semi final
The Offaly champions are the ranked outsiders to be celebrating come March 17th despite the fact they are already in the Leinster final. They have come through the easier side of the Leinster championship avoid both the Kilkenny and Wexford champions. In their last game they came from four points down with fifteen minutes to go to win by four points. This is the club’s maiden voyage into the All Ireland championship as they had never won the county before this year. The experience of making a Lenister final will be invaluable to them but Ballyhale/ Oulart the Ballagh will have too much for them on the day.
Paul Jenkins, blog GAA Beo
Read Full Post »