NORMALLY the curtain raiser, this year's County Minor Hurling Final will instead act as the aperitif.
And what a tasty aperitif it is too. Kilmoyley against Lixnaw have been one of the defining fixtures of the Kerry hurling scene this past five years. At the senior grade Lixnaw have consistently proven their ability to get under Kilmoyley's skin. What effect will that have on Saturday's final? None whatsoever we'd wager. Both teams are carrying huge momentum into this final from their respective semi-finals. Both teams will fancy their chances.
Both sets of players will be under varying degrees of pressure. Both clubs will look to this minor final for hope for the future. Kilmoyley are still licking their wounds from the senior semi-final, while for Lixnaw last Sunday's county final defeat by Ballyduff will continue to hurt this week and well into the future. If their minors could get a win over Kilmoyley on Sunday that would go some way towards easing the pain.
There are players on both sides who have played senior hurlers this year. For Lixnaw Ricky Heffernan is obviously this side's stand out player having score 0-8 of his side's 1-9 total against Ballyduff on Sunday, but it's not just about Ricky Heffernan. Conor O'Brien make his mark during the final on Sunday and will probably feature at midfield for the minors this weekend. Kenny Waltz is another minor who played senior for Lixnaw this year. He didn't feature on county final day, but he had played some fine games earlier in the championship.
The one to watch out for from Kilmoyley will be Daniel Collins. He's been playing senior hurling for the last year and-a-half now at this stage. He knows how to influence a game. He'll also be hoping to get off to a winning start in minor finals this year, he's a dual star and also has a County MInor Football Championship Final to look forward to with St Brendans.
Colman Savage, Kilmoyley's go to full-back this weekend we suspect, also has experience of senior hurling. Indeed, he played at full-back for Kilmoyley in last wekend's defeat by St Brendans in the County Senior Hurling League Division 2 final in Stack Park.
So who's going to win? Looking at the semi-finals Lixnaw were arguably the more impressive side. They totally dismantled an O'Dorney / Crotta combination on a scoreline of 6-18 to 1-4. Clearly this is a quality Lixnaw outfit, but such a scoreline leads on to question just how good were the opposition – not very. Kilmoyley's semi-final victory over a well fancied Causeway team (the pre-championship favourites) was arguably more impressive.
It's a tough call. Will Lixnaw's hurt from last weekend drive them forward here? Or are Kilmoyley with the favourites following their dismantling of Causeway?