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Four knockout ties to savour

Chadwicks Wexford Park hosting quarter-final action

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Eoin Ryan and Liam Schokman (17), two talented young guns on the St. Anne's team.

Eoin Ryan and Liam Schokman (17), two talented young guns on the St. Anne's team.

Oisín Pepper (left) will be leading the Rapparees' search for scores on Sunday.

Oisín Pepper (left) will be leading the Rapparees' search for scores on Sunday.

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Eoin Ryan and Liam Schokman (17), two talented young guns on the St. Anne's team.

wexfordpeople

EIGHT TEAMS left, and the prospect of four mouth-watering quarter-finals - it’s been a hectic few weeks of action, but the Pettitt’s Senior hurling championship is now at the stage where the men will be sorted from the boys.

Each one of the four quarter-finals has plenty to recommend it in its own right, and it would take a very shrewd judge to correctly forecast all the winners.

Chadwicks Wexford Park will play host to all four matches, starting with a double bill on Saturday.

The local derby between St. Anne’s and St. Martin’s will get proceedings under way at 5 p.m., following by a repeat meeting from the same stage last year when Naomh Éanna take on Shelmaliers at 7 p.m.

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The winners of those matches will be clashing in the semi-final on the following weekend.

While the GAA authorities have shown their support for our ladies’ football team by leaving Sunday afternoon entirely free of clashing fixtures, that should serve to whet the appetite for the 7 p.m. all-town clash of holders Rapparees and Faythe Harriers.

And there’s also a bank holiday treat in store to bring proceedings to a conclusion, as Glynn-Barntown will face Ferns St. Aidan’s on Monday at 5 p.m.

This will be the first meeting of St. Martin’s and St. Anne’s since the 2019 county final, a game that the men in maroon won after a major battle by 1-15 to 1-13.

However, the Piercestown and Murrintown crew have been unable to replicate that form since, exiting in the 2020 quarter-final to Glynn-Barntown before surviving a relegation play-off at the expense of Oulart-The Ballagh last year.

St. Anne’s, meanwhile, bowed out to the latter in the 2020 quarter-final, but they marched impressively to last year’s decider before shipping a heavy defeat to Rapparees.

Underestimating the Rathangan men tends to be a foolish exercise, and yet it happens all too often in the lead-up to big games. Certainly, their display in accounting for Naomh Éanna on Sunday was most impressive, and they look to be in very good order ahead of this tough test.

Not surprisingly, St. Martin’s have been a shadow of their old selves without the injured Rory O’Connor, but the sight of those light blue jerseys should spur them on like never before.

Shelmaliers have been the masters in the last two campaigns against Naomh Éanna, winning the county final by seven points in 2020 before enjoying a similar margin of success in the quarter-final last year.

However, that game was tarnished by the controversial dismissal of Gorey attacker Conor McDonald, and that won’t be forgotten in their camp as they look ahead to this latest showdown.

What happened in the past won’t be a concern though for their new coach, James Quirke.

Incidentally, he is one of three members of the De La Salle club in Waterford city to be actively involved on the Wexford scene at present, along with Jason Ryan (Glynn-Barntown) and Derek McGrath (Faythe Harriers). And, when you factor in that Mick Casey previously worked with Clongeen and Taghmon-Camross, while John Mullane was with Adamstown, to have so many Wexford connections with the one club is truly remarkable.

Many people wondered if Rapparees would be happy to settle for a first title win since 1978, but it’s clear from the group stages that they are intent on kicking on and completing the double.

Four victories from five is a good record to take into Sunday’s clash with Faythe Harriers, and they are playing with levels of maturity and confidence that can only come from the experience of being champions.

Their Wexford town rivals have departed at this stage to Shelmaliers and Glynn-Barntown respectively over the past two seasons, but they would have settled for a last eight spot after three rounds of this campaign when they were still without a win.

Momentum is an important quality in any sport, and they have that in abundance after seeing off St. Anne’s and Cloughbawn when the pressure was on.

It may be boring and predictable, but every Harriers game is framed on the basic question of how well the opposition will be able to contain Lee Chin.

This one is no different, although welcome signs have emerged in recent weeks that their younger players are starting to settle into their roles.

Last year’s group game between Glynn-Barntown (1-15 to 0-15 winners) and Ferns St. Aidan’s was marred by a fracas so - similar to Naomh Éanna versus Shelmaliers - there should be a little spice to add when they meet on Monday.

Both went on to exit at the hands of Rapparees - Ferns in the quarter-final and Glynn-Barntown in the semi-final - but the Gorey District men have shown the better form on the whole in the current campaign.

Who do we fancy? While we wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with a zero from four record, we’re tipping the semi-final pairings to be St. Anne’s against Shelmaliers, and Rapparees versus Ferns St. Aidan’s.


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