Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals Preview- Naas and Coill Dubh can set up repeat of League Final

Robert Cribbin

Reporter:

Robert Cribbin

Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Finals Preview-  Naas and Coill Dubh can set up repeat of League Final

Jack Sheridan will again be the main man when Naas face offf with Eire Og Corrachoill this afternoon

Ardclough v Coill Dubh- St.Conleths Park at 2.00

The first game in this afternoon’s double header at St.Conleths Park is a fascinating contest as 2017 County Champions Ardclough collide with League holders Coill Dubh.

Ardclough are looking to make their third final in a row while Coill Dubh with promising early season form are looking to get back to Hurling’s big day for the first time since 2015 where incidentally they defeated today’s opponents.

There was a bit of controversy in the lead up to the game as Ardclough marksman Martin Fitzgerald was originally ruled out through suspension but after going through the hearing and appeals process he was rightly given grace as he was wrongfully dismissed in the last group game against Leixlip.

Fitzgerald along with his brother Paul are Ardclough’s main twin threats and they have been very impressive throughout the Championship.

It started all the way back in the opening round when they defeated  the then County Champions Celbridge and they have gone from strength to strength since then with Group victories over Eire Og Chorrachoill and Leixlip and while Naas defeated them they played the majority of that game with 14 men.

We know all about the Fitzgerald’s and what they can do but they aren’t on their own either as at the back the likes of David Collins and Drew Costello have really stepped it up.

Fionn Kelly has been a revelation in midfield and the likes of Johnny Reeves and Sean Whelan have helped take the burden of the main two in attack.

Coill Dubh are also going along nicely and they breezed through the “Losers” Group with three wins from three in good fashion.

Clane, Celbridge and Confey were the defeated teams and this hugely experienced side is benefitting with John Byrne Snr managing them and John Byrne the player being available full time after opting off the Kildare Football panel at the start of the year.

Byrne is playing at full forward mostly but in around him the likes of Mark Delaney, Ryan Casey and Declan Flaherty are all chipping in with scores which makes them especially dangerous.

The defence is even more strenuous with the likes of Mark Grace, Dylan Brereton and Diarmuid Cahill all capable of curtailing the Ardclough threat.

Coill Dubh are in the unfortunate position that the likes of Byrne, Delaney and Ronan Guilfoyle only played an Intermediate Football Championship game with Allenwood on Wednesday Night so it will be interesting to see if they all passed through that ok.

It’s a game that is going to the wire no matter what way you look at it but Coill Dubh are a different animal this year and their bigger scoring threat and sheer hunger to make up for a few lost years may be enough to get them to the final.

Verdict: Coill Dubh

 

Naas v Eire Og Chorrachoill- St.Conleths Park at 3.45

For the second time in the Championship Naas and Eire Og Chorrachoill lock horns and like a few weeks previous Naas will go in as favourites.

The beaten League Finalists will be fancied but Eire Og’s shock win over Celbridge a fortnight ago will have certainly made them sit up and take notice.

It was expected to be tight on paper but when Celbridge opened up a nine point lead all looked lost for Eire Og but the Donore based outfit have oceans of character and quite obviously belief and refusing to die they battled back to force extra-time and eventually dump the holders out a lot earlier than many expected.

Rory O’Neill and Paul Kennedy got the goals in that 2-20 to 3-14 win and they will need a similar performance from half-time onwards if they are to cause another upset.

Liam Dempsey is the free taker and he scored 0-10 the last day and he will be closely marshalled so Eire Og will need some of the other forwards to stand up again.

The last meeting was back roughly a month ago and Naas cruised to a twelve point success with Jack Sheridan on top form as he scored 1-8 while James Burke only emerged as a substitute that day so Naas still have plenty of scope for improvement.

After both their Junior and Intermediate sides captured County Titles on Saturday afternoon the pressure is certainly on to round off on a perfect weekend but even more so to finally land the big one, i.e the Senior Hurling Title.

Naas certainly have the talent and on paper they have the best team left but its been left on paper far too much over the seventeen years since they took the crown last back in 2002.

Like many years previous there has been many speed bumps this year including the League Final where they were well beaten and close Championship calls with the likes of Leixlip and Ardclough.

All that will be forgotten though if they move within 60 minutes of the ultimate success and that is very likely if their forward line get motoring.

As already mentioned Sheridan and Burke are huge threats and when you throw the likes of the Dowling brothers and Brian Byrne in on top of that you can certainly see where their strengths lie.

It’s further back that they may be a bit suspect but Eire Og don’t look like the team to exploit it and barring a huge upset Naas should get another day out and get back to County Final day.

Verdict: Naas