Wednesday 21 August 2019

Club hurling developing into real variety show

Joseph Cooney, Sarsfields
Joseph Cooney, Sarsfields
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

If only inter-county hurling showed as much variety as the club scene!

Of the seven clubs still in contention for the All-Ireland senior title, only Sarsfields (Galway) have won it previously (1993 and 1994).

Craughwell, who replay the Galway final against Sarsfields next Sunday, have never played in the All-Ireland championship, having last won the county title 84 years ago, 40 years before the national competition was launched.

The Galway winners will play Cushendall (Antrim), who have never reached the All-Ireland final, in the semi-final next February.

Neither of the Munster finalists, Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) and Ballygunner (Waterford), have reached the All-Ireland final, while Leinster finalists, Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford) and Cuala (Dublin) are each bidding for their first provincial crown.

So unless Joseph Cooney and his Sarsfields colleagues revisit the heights of the 1990s, the All-Ireland final will feature two first-timers, which is good for the competition.

It's different in football where some of the most successful clubs in championship history have eagle eyes on more glory.

Nemo Rangers (seven All-Ireland titles) and Crossmaglen Rangers (six titles) have reached their respective provincial finals, as have Corofin, the reigning All-Ireland champions.

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Portlaoise, who are also on the All-Ireland roll of honour, remain in the race too, taking on Killoe (Longford) in the Leinster semi-final next Sunday.

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