Intermediate start on busy weekend By Shane Brophy
This weekend for the majority of clubs is the crucial penultimate round of the North Senior Hurling Championship while the Intermediate Championship also gets underway for the five competing teams.
The Borrisokane v Templederry Kenyon's game in Group 2 of the senior hurling championship has been rescheduled because of the Tipperary footballers preparation for Sunday week's Munster Championship clash with Kerry involving Borrisokane's Philip Austin.
The Intermediate Championship draw has been altered with Shannon Rovers bye weekend being brought forward because of George Hannigan's similar involvement with the Tipperary footballers, allowing the championship to get underway with two games this weekend.
Denis's Meats Intermediate Hurling Championship Round 1 Newport v Ballinahinch at Dolla @ 6.00pm
The derby clash between Newport and Ballinahinch gets the competition underway in what promises to be an open Intermediate Championship.
While league form comes with a health warning, both sides have performed well in the county league but all along will have had an eye on the championship opener. Little has separated the sides in their meetings over the last three years with both sides having enjoyed the bragging rights. Newport currently hold them after last years clash and should get off to a winning start. Verdict: Newport
Hibernian Inn Senior Hurling Championship
Group 1 Moneygall v Burgess at Dolla @ 7.30pm.
It is do or die for both sides as defeat would end their hopes of reaching the knockout stages. Moneygall come in on a high following their win over Kildangan and with games against Burgess and Lorrha to come, can feel confident of being in the hunt to make a quarter final. Wing back Pajo Troy who was stretchered off with last Saturday is out with broken rubs.
Burgess's problems continue with Michael O'Flaherty joining the absentee list with shoulder injury while Shane Maher still suspended. College exams would determine team selection also.
Denis's Meats Intermediate Hurling Championship Round 1
Silvermines v Ballina in Nenagh @ 2.00pm
Two sides that have underachieved in many peoples' eyes in recent years clash in their respective opening games.
Silvermines last won the title in 2006 and have gone into many of the recent competitions as favourites and while they have done well in the group stages, they have not won a knockout game since that final win in 06. But first things first and that is to make the semi-finals and that will be easier said than done without Damien Boland, Niall Kelly, Noel & Sean Quirke.
Ballina have reached three finals since 2005 but have still to lift the Fr. Hewitt Cup. They will see this year as good a chance as any to win it for the first time with a relatively settled panel where Brian Stritch, Thomas Collins and Jerry O'Brien will have key roles. Verdict: Ballina
Hibernian Inn Senior Hurling Championship Group 1 Toomevara v Lorrha in Cloughjordan @ 3.30pm
Toomevara got back to winning ways with an unspectacular win over Burgess last Sunday but did lift their game in the second half when it looked as if they would be in some difficulty. They haven't hit their stride as yet but the form of Joey McLoughney has been a notable feature so far.
Lorrha only have pride to play for after suffering three consecutive defeats and were very disappointing in the defeat to Kilruane last Saturday. Injuries haven't helped with Patrick Maher, Michael O'Meara and Ronan O'Meara again unlikely to feature with Daniel Smith added to the list following a knee injury picked up in a junior league game last Sunday.
Kilruane MacDonaghs v Kildangan in Nenagh @ 3.30pm.
Kilruane MacDonaghs can confirm a place in the knockout stages if they get the better of neighbours Kildangan. It what is probably the most eye-catching game of the weekend, Kilruane will be aiming to make it four wins out of four and that they have done so without Seamus Hennessy and last weekend Niall O'Meara is a testament that the underage success is starting to bear fruit at senior level.
Kildangan are sure to be a wounded animal following their defeat to Moneygall where they failed to hurl to their capabilities and lacked the drive usually associated with their displays. Kilruane usually get the best out of them. Verdict: Kildangan Group 2 Roscrea v Portroe in Cloughjordan @ 2.00pm.
Every game in group two is now critical and for both these sides who have one two points so far, a win will keep them in the hunt. The game is of greater importance to Portroe as they have played one more than Roscrea and will need to bounce back from their poor showing in the defeat to Borrisokane.
Roscrea have only played two games and know that a win this Sunday will put them in good shape to qualify. Diarmuid and Tommy Fitzgerald are nearing a return and will add greatly to a side that have shown good potential so far with Davin Flynn starring in their recent win over Borrisokane. Verdict: Roscrea
Nenagh Éire Óg v Borris-Ileigh in Toomevara @ 7.00pm.
Nenagh Éire Óg can take a big step towards the knockout stages if they win this game. They recovered well from to defeat Templederry last weekend where Ritchie Flannery and Michael Heffernan led the way. However, they will need to step it up to get the better of Borris-Ileigh who will offer a greater test of their defence.
Borris-Ileigh have a win and a draw so far from their two games but were fortunate to get a draw with Templederry last time out. Injured players are slowly beginning to return to help add depth to their panel plus in Philip Rabbitte, they have a huge threat at full forward if they supply him enough ball. Verdict: Borris-Ileigh
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