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Provincial final spot up for grabs for Bray Emmets



Bray Emmets are just 60 minutes away from making the final of a major Leinster hurling championship. Who would have believed it - apart from Bray themselves.

Danesfort of Kilkenny and Oulart-The Ballagh from Wexford were the hot favourites to make the decider of the AIB Leinster Club intermediate hurling championship but both were knocked out at the quarter-final stage.

Naomh Barrog from Dublin claimed the serious scalp of Oulart-The Ballagh eleven days ago which makes them formidable opponents for Wicklow’s Senior champions, the most successful hurling force in the county over the last decade.

Already Bray have beaten St Lazarians of Laois - a county also with a better hurling pedigree than Wicklow - and that suggests that Bray are in with a reasonable shout in Saturday’s semi.

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Home venue at Echelon Park Aughrim will enhance Bray’s chances further but there is little doubt that Naomh Barrog will be the favourites to advance to the final.

Dublin’s hurling status is on a much higher plain than that of Wicklow’s but against that Bray have experienced Dublin hurling with success this year, winning one of their leagues with a near unblemished run of ten wins.

However the clash of Naomh Barrog and Oulart was described as an epic encounter, only decided in a penalty shoot-out at the death, and that gives some indication of the Herculean task facing Bray on Saturday.

Laois too are a stronger hurling county than Wicklow and yet Bray have shown by their defeat of St Lazarians they are capable of taking on the big challenges. Taking big scalps.

After their fantastic quarter- final win, star player and match winner Christy Moorehouse defiantly declared “we fear no team”.

As the architect of the win over the Laois men Moorehouse posted a fantastic 12 points for his team, all but one of them from frees.

He meets his mirror image on Saturday in Naomh Barrog’s centre-forward Joe Flanagan, who scored a similar 12 points, ten from frees, in his team’s penalty shoot-out victory over Oulart-The Ballagh.

Indeed Dublin’s tier-three champions pose a really formidable attacking force, led by Paddy Doyle, an inspiring sweeper, with all six of their forwards getting on the score sheet.

Against such a formidable foe, Bray’s backs will need to be on top of their game from start to finish. Indeed, if they are to stand a chance, it is going to need a mighty effort from everyone right throughout the field, from goalie to corner-forward Mikey Boland.

Bray have shown they can do it against St Lazarians, opponents they matched stride for stride and score for score. And came out on top. But Naomh Barrog will be another step up the ladder. Bray must bring their ‘A game’ to Echelon Park Aughrim on Saturday. Nothing less will suffice, but they can do it.

And in the Bray performance against the Laois champions there is still scope for further improvement. We can expect that Naomh Barrog will have done their homework on Bray over the last ten days. They will come at Bray with guns blazing. Seek to punch holes in Bray’s defences.

In short, Bray must be purring for Saturday’s showdown. There must be no weakest link, or the Dubliners will punish.

In a year when Wicklow hurling has taken a battering on the inter-county scene, a Bray victory would be a welcome shot-in-the- arm for Garden County hurling.

There’s no doubt Bray Emmets face a mammoth task. Odds would seem to favour their opponents. But history also tells us that it was David, the shepherd, who slew Goliath, the nine-foot giant.