Oulart fancied in club hurling's new order
THIS season's AIB senior club hurling championships have taken on a brand new personality with none of the last 16 clubs who have won the All-Ireland title in contention this time.
It leaves Antrim and Ulster champions, Loughgiel Shamrocks, All-Ireland winners in 1983, as the only previous winners of the Tommy Moore Cup still in the race to Croke Park next Patrick's Day.
It's a most unusual situation which adds to the excitement of a competition which has concluded in Ulster and reached the semi-final stage in Leinster and Munster. Galway champions -- Clarinbridge or Loughrea -- will represent Connacht. Eleven clubs remain in contention, with Oulart-the Ballagh installed as favourites to bring the title back to Wexford for the first time since Buffer's Alley success in 1989.
This year's champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks and runners-up, Portumna, who between them won the last five All-Ireland titles, were beaten in their respective county championships, as were Munster champions, Newtownshandrum and their Ulster counterparts, Dunloy.
O'Loughlin Gaels, who replaced Ballyhale as Kilkenny champions, are third All-Ireland favourites behind Thurles Sarsfields, followed by Loughrea and Sarsfields.
The All-Ireland hurling title has gone to Galway, Kilkenny, Cork and Offaly clubs every year since 2000.
Five previous All-Ireland champions remain in contention for the football title with Crossmaglen Rangers, who dethroned 2010 title holders, St.Gall's in the Ulster quarter-final last Sunday, the new favourites. Other previous All-Ireland winners, Nemo Rangers, Kilmacud Crokes and Dr Crokes are next in line on the betting lists for the Andy Merrigan Cup.
Ballintubber and Coleraine are newcomers to the provincial championship, having won the Mayo and Derry titles respectively for the first time. Both will be in action next Sunday, with Ballintubber playing Killererin in the Connacht semi-final, while Coleraine face Burren in the Ulster quarter-final.
All-Ireland club betting
Hurling: Oulart-the Ballagh (Wexford) 2/1; Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) 7/2; O'Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) 4/1; Loughrea (Galway) 6/1; Sarsfields (Cork) 9/1; De La Salle (Waterford), Clarinbridge (Galway) 12/1; Loughgiel (Antrim) 16/1; Ballyboden St-Enda's (Dublin) 20/1; Kilmallock (Limerick) 25/1; Raharney (Westmeath) 150/1.
Football: Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) 11/4;Nemo Rangers (Cork) 9/2; Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 11/2; Dr Crokes (Kerry) 6/1; St.Brigid's (Roscommon) 10/1; Rhode (Offaly), Portlaoise (Laois), Killererin (Galway) 12/1; Naomh Conaill (Donegal) 22/1; Coalisland (Tyrone) 25/1; Garrycastle (Westmeath) 28/1; Skryne (Meath) 33/1; Ballintubber (Mayo) 40/1; Burren (Down), Coleraine (Derry), 50/1; Castletown (Wexford) 100/1;Doonbeg (Clare), Monaleen (Limerick), Mattock Rangers (Louth), Old Leighlin (Carlow) 150/1; Glencar-Manorhamilton (Leitrim) 300/1.