Sunday, 22nd October 2017
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No group shocks in final round

The concluding round of the JJ Kavanagh sponsored Waterford Senior Hurling Championship was completed last weekend. While there were no real shocks the final eight (quarter finals) will make for some interesting ties. Champions Ballygunner will face long time rivals Mount Sion. The Monastery outfit have so often been a nemesis for the Gunners and will relish the opportunity of trying to put one over their great rivals.

However at this stage of the campaign it is easy to see why most pundits and indeed patrons are looking at Ballygunner retaining the Waterford News and Star Cup. On Sunday last it was the Gunners who came through rather comfortably against De La Salle on a 0-23 to 0-15 scoreline. Needless to say both Ballygunner and De La Salle had already secured their place in the last eight before this game was played. Title holders, Ballygunner, will again go into action as raging hot favourites in their quarter final with County players Stephen O'Keeffe, Bary Coughlan, Philip and Pauric Mahony along with the free scoring O'Sullivan's and Peter Hogan in their side. It will take a huge effort from Mount Sion to prevent the Gunners progress. However Sion, beaten by Lismore 1-21 to 1-14 last weekend, can never be written off when the teams reach the knockout stages of the championship. The title laden club can look to player of the year Austin Gleeson to lead the charge with fellow county panellists Stephen Roche and goalkeeper Ian O'Regan along with Owen Whelan and Michael Gaffney, if back from injury, to fly the Monastery flag. Ballygunner versus Mount Sion, it brings one back to those great championship encounters of over a decade ago.

Second favourites for the title, De La Salle, will face Fourmilewater who have on more than one occasion upset the odds on the Stephen Street outfit.  De La Salle have been impressive throughout this competition with wins over Dungarvan, Abbeyside and Ballyduff Upper and a draw two weeks ago against Tallow. The only defeat of the current campaign coming on Sunday last against the Gunners, see above. This game could indeed be set for "tie of the round" even at this stage. Both teams have attacking flair and De La Salle will look to Jake Dillon, Shane Ryan, John Mullane, Adam Farrell and co to drive the scoreboard while hurler of the year nominee Kevin Moran will be shoring up the defence. On the other hand Fourmilewater, who beat relegation threatened Portlaw 2-16 to 0-8, will, along with their sister club Nire, be fighting for both Senior Hurling and Football titles once again this year. There is that danger that they could conceivably "fall between two stools".  If playing in the "engine room" midfield area Fourmilewater have two of the leading players of the past Intercounty campaign in hurler of the year nominee Jamie Barron and YHTY Conor Gleeson. At centre forward the vastly experienced Shane Walsh along with Craig Guiry are playing better than ever. This game will be no place for the faint hearted.

Group Two table toppers and 2016 Intermediate champions Lismore, beat Mount Sion 1-21 to 1-14 last weekend, have done all that is required with just one blip, against Roanmore, throughout the current group stage. They face Western club Abbeyside. The latter have not shown anything like their true potential this year and have struggled throughout the present campaign with a late late succession of points gaining the day over relegation threatened Ballyduff Upper 0-13 to 0-12) and getting them through to the quarter finals. However there is no denying the talent in Abbeyside but with many of the players also competing in the Senior Football Championship there is a fear that they may well fall "between two stools". Abbeyside can call on a number of players who have graced the under age championships in recent years. Goalkeeper Stephen Enright is without doubt the best dual keeper in the county while Sean O'Hare and Conor Prunty will try to keep the goal watertight. In attack the "village" will look to Podge Hurney and Mark Ferncombe to punish any lapses in their opponents defence.  Lismore have both Maurice and "Big Dan" Shanahan firing on all cylinders and their sojourn in the Intermediate ranks for 2016 and their subsequent march through that Intermediate championship seems to have given the team a real confident air. Along with the Shanahans the Cathedral Town will look to Ray Barry and the Prendergasts to give them that vital edge.

The final game of the quarter finals will see Passage and Dungarvan cross hurleys. This is certainly a game that could go right to the wire with both teams coming through their respective games last weekend. Passage had a 4-9 to 0-14 win over Roanmore which effectively put the latter out of the last eight. They will, like their oppopnents, call on experience and youth which so far has stood them in good stead. The team from the fishing village have hit a real vein of form in recent weeks with wins over both Mount Sion and Roanmore and will once again be backboned by the Connors, Noel in the pivotal centre back position, Owen, Thomas and Aaron along with Killian Fitzgerald, Jason Roche and dependable keeper Eddie Lynch. One wonders will we see former county star Eoin Kelly, who has been nursing a finger injury, make a start in the opening fifteen. That would surely boost the Passage lads. Dungarvan on the other hand scored a deserving 0-19 to 0-14 win over Tallow last weekend. Another team blessed with youth and experience. Their defence including Jamie Nagle, Aaron Donnelly and Darragh Lyons will hope to close down the Passage attack while up front the Currans, Cormac, Cathal, Colm and the hugely dangerous Patrick along with Ryan Donnelly will keep the Passage defence on their toes.

The following are the fixtures and venues for the JJ Kavanagh Senior Hurling Quarter Finals;

Saturday 7th October 4pm. Ballygunner versus Mount Sion in Walsh Park.

Saturday 7th October 7.30pm. Lismore versus Abbeyside in Fraher Field.

Sunday 8th October 1.45pm. De La Salle versus Fourmilewater in Fraher Field.

Sunday 8th October 3.15om. Dungarvan versus Passage in Fraher Field.

Please note the relegation playoff between Ballyduff Upper and Portlaw will take place on Saturday at 6pm in Fraher Field.

Please of action at both venues and no doubt some great hurling in prospect.

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