Tuesday 18 September 2018

A championship open to everyone

Brendan Lawrence, Sports Editor

The Dacia Senor Hurling Championship gets underway on Monday night next when Bray Emmets take on Kiltegan in Aughrim at 7.45pm and, at the same time in Bray, St Patrick's go toe to toe with Eamonn Scallan's Éire Óg Greystones.

Then on Tuesday night, the defending champions Glenealy will go head to head with their old enemy Carnew only two weeks after losing out to James Hickey's side in the league final on the Wexford border. You can say what you want, but there's absolutely nothing out there to beat that championship feeling. 

It's a fascinating championship ahead due to the amount of unknowns and the potential for shocks. Every hurling person spoken to in the run up to the championship has called this the most open championship ion years.

Can Michael Neary bring Pat's back to the heights they scaled last year and go one step further and secure a place in the county final where the scoring prowess of Andy and George O'Brien can be fully appreciated on the big stage.

Can Éire Óg build on their big season and their impressive defeat of Carnew Emmets? Can James Hickey bring out the best in the once mighty Carnew? The Mount Leinster rangers star has certainly made a massive impression in the club and the league final victory, albeit against a weakened Glenealy side, will have been a boost.

Can Bray right the wrongs of last year? A championship they feel they let slip away. Can they get back to the summit where they feel they belong? What will Paul Carley bring to the table?

Can Kiltegan improve their lot in the hurling world? There's plenty of fine hurlers in the west but manager Nigel Byrne knows only too well the difficulties faced by the small ball game in that part of the world and their opener against Bray presents them with a serious challenge to try and handle as best they can.

And Glenealy, a few bad decisions away from a Leinster club title a few months ago and now about to embark on a new championship journey as defending champions, a totally different universe to the one they occupied this time last year.

It's early days but it's safe to say that this year's championship has the potential to be the most open and most entertaining for many years, both on and off the field.

There's big players involved, there's big personalities, and there's a big prize.

Expect markers to be laid down next Monday and Tuesday evening as teams look to test themselves.

It promises to be a great few months of action. The waiting is over. Championship is here.

Bray People