Kilkenny Advertiser, September 30, 2011.
With Pat Treacy
Nowlan Park: Saturday, 4pm
Dicksboro have a massive chance to upset the defending champions, O’Loughlin Gaels, in Nowlan Park on Saturday.
Having played two very intense games in the opening round against Clara, and shaking off the huge threat of relegation, Dicksboro will go into this clash very well prepared and with a freedom they have not experienced all year. Following their promotion from the intermediate grade last year, 2011 was all about retaining their place at the top grade for the Palmerstown-based club.
They have done that and the relief was palpable among the club members last weekend. The Boro played the better hurling over the two games with Clara and their use of the ball was quite intelligent at times.
David Glynn and Oisín Walsh proved to be quite effective in the crucial centre back and centre forward positions, while the deployment of Ollie Walsh in a free role in the middle third of the field worked well.
Dicksboro found a shape and a rhythm that seems to suit their team.
O’Loughlins have been idle for three weeks. They chose to play the shield final against St Martin’s the week after the All-Ireland final, so they are coming to this quarter-final cold, and not really knowing their form.
The Gaels cruised through the league campaign suffering one loss to James Stephens.
It is only six weeks since they trounced Dicksboro 3-16 to 0-10, but that will count for little next Saturday afternoon. That 15-point win could be a disadvantage as they head for Nowlan Park on Saturday.
There is a feel-good factor around the St John’s parish club after Brian Hogan captained Kilkenny to one their best ever All-Ireland victories. Martin Comerford continues to lead the attack, and the return of Mark Kelly after missing all of last year’s championship campaign is like having a new top class player on board.
The 2010 campaign took off for O’Loughlin’s with that famous victory over Ballyhale Shamrocks and the overall strength of the team was the key to last year’s success. This weekend is beginning for the champions and it’s a real banana skin.
Dicksboro will have to handle Martin Comerford much better than they did in the fifth round of the league. On that occasion Gorta caused mayhem, and many Dicksboro supporters felt it was their worst performance in recent times.
I expect Dicksboro to be much better on this occasion, and they will ask plenty of questions of the reigning champions before the final whistle.
Expect a good start from Dicksboro but the experienced O’Loughlins will probably shade it.
Nowlan Park: Sunday, 4pm
Carrickshock issued a warning last weekend that they are up there with the best, as they took the game to Ballyhale Shamrocks.
Even though it took a long range free from Richie Power in injury time to force a draw, it was generally agreed that they were the better team over the hour.
Replays seldom mirror the drawn game, and Sunday’s clash will be a whole new ball game. The Shamrocks will look to tighten up around their own goal and preventing green flags will be a priority.
They will try to match their opponents’ enthusiasm and appetite for work, because they set the tempo of the game and the Shamrocks struggled to keep pace with them. Last Sunday’s game was a wake-up call for the championship favourites.
Carrickshock will take courage from the drawn game. They should not have any fear of their neighbours, and they have improved from last year’s run to the county final.
The return of John Tennyson must be a massive boost for the squad, and the knowledge of the effort that he has given just to get on the field will surely inspire all the panel to give everything to win this game.
It is seldom that Shamrocks score two goals and not win a match. They have a habit of hitting points regularly reaching the high teens, but this year that has been absent. When you score three goals in a game your team should win.
Those are the contradictions coming out of last Sunday’s drawn game. Can Carrickshock reproduce the same form?
Shamrocks to shade it.