HURLING takes over the show in Wicklow this weekend with a big list of important matches ranging from the Junior C final right up to the two semi-finals of the Senior Championship.
Coogan Hardware SHC semi-finals
Aughrim, Sunday Carnew v. Bray Emmets - 1.30 p.m. Carnew, bidding to take their twentieth title in Senior hurling take on an up and coming Bray Emmets side in the first of the semi-finals in the Senior hurling championship on Sunday. On all known form the men from the Wexford border have to start hot favourites but that won't worry the Bray men.
They have one great thing going for them - most of the present team have tasted victory over Carnew at underage level in recent years. So while they are still likely to treat them with respect they will not fear them in the way that some other clubs do.
Bray were quite impressive in most of their matches this year and were clear cut winners over teams like St Patrick's, Kiltegan and Corbett Gaels.
However this is another big step up for them. Carnew went unbeaten through the league, winning the Kavanagh Cup along the way and they are now fully fired up to make it all the way.
The Collins, the Kennedys and great veteran Don Hyland still backbone the team but they are now boosted by young newcomers like Paul Nolan and Robert Lambert.
Young players like Mikey Lee, Christy Moorehouse and John Henderson are sure to make the going tough for any team but the verdict simply must go to the far more experienced Carnew men. Avondale v. Glenealy - 3.15 p.m. The second match at the county grounds see the holders Glenealy put their title on the line against near neighbours Avondale.
While Glenealy have dominated the grade in recent years and have added greatly to their title take they are still bidding for that elusive three-ina-row.
Avondale it must be side was one of the teams that breathed new life into the hurling championship this year. They put it up to all comers, beat most of them and even got a draw with Sunday's opponents.
That was the league section, however and this is the championship - straight knock-out, winner takes all. With everything to play for, a three-in-arow still on the table Glenealy will definitely up their game and must be fancied to win this one.
Intermediate Hurling Championship
Saturday - Arklow - 3.00pm Glenealy v. Kilcoole This is another game where Glenealy will start favourites but where they are almost certain to get a tough passage against a Kilcoole team that now have football out of the way and their commitment to the Cormac Gaels group team over for the year. Verdict: A win for Glenealy. Eire Og v. Carnew - 4.30pm. This could be the match of the day. Carnew proved that they have quite a good second string team when they went all the way to the Leinster final back in the spring and gave the Bray Emmets Seniors plenty to think about in that final.
However Eire Og are a team improving with every outing and now that they are no longer involved in the race for the Miley Cup they can concentrate solely on hurling. This one may be too tight to call but I have a feeling that the Greystones men could just about shade it.
Aughrim - Saturday 4.30pm. ARP v. Enniskerry The first of the county hurling finals for 2012 takes place at Aughrim on Sunday. Enniskerry, mainly because they have no football commitments this year, will start favourites to take this title in hurling.
In any grade Arklow Rocks are a tough team to beat so even if the odds are stacked against them they are sure to make a fight of it. Too close to call.
JAFC semi-final replay
Valleymount - Sunday 2.30pm. Baltinglass v. Blessington One of the great battles in a very competitive Junior A championship was the second semifinal between Baltinglass and Blessington.
It ebbed and flowed right through the hour and finally ended in a draw under the lights at Hollywood.
This time the powers that be have decided to give it some daylight and have fixed it for Valleymount.
Another great battle expected before Rathnew know who their opponents in the final will be.
On paper Baltinglass does look the better equipped but that's now how it worked out the last day so all we will say about this one is that it could go either way.