Kilmallock’s Tough Test, Relegation Battle & Fascinating Group Two Clash | SHC Talking Points

It is fair to assume that Kilmallock’s toughest test to date is next up this Thursday evening as they take on Patrickswell in a repeat of the 2021 decider.

We are into the second to last round of the Limerick Senior Hurling Championship with time running out for teams to make their march into the knockout stages.

Some have already set out their stall but for plenty others, this weekend’s action could prove critical.

With a full set of fixtures to look forward to starting this Wednesday, we analyse some of the talking points.

Kilmallock face their toughest test to date

It has been pretty much plain sailing for Kilmallock thus far as they remain the only team in the top tier with a 100% record. However, it is fair to assume that their toughest test to date is next up this Thursday evening as they take on Patrickswell in a repeat of the 2021 decider.

Following comfortable wins over Doon, Ahane and Kildimo Pallaskenry, the Balbec will have their work cut out for them in round four. Facing them will be a Patrickswell outfit that got their season back on track following a blip against Doon in the second round. Last time out, the City men had Hurler of the Years Cian Lynch Diarmaid Byrnes in fine fettle while HOTY elect Aaron Gillane continued his superb individual season. And they will know a win over the Balbec would put them in pole position for the automatic semi-final spots.

Credit: Tom Beary

Still, Fintan O’Connor and co will focus more on themselves as one of the most balanced teams in the competition. The Balbec are stacked in every area of the field and were able to welcome back All-Ireland winner Robbie Hanley last time out with Graeme Mulcahy still to come into the fold. Star forwards Oisin O’Reilly and Shane O’Brien have been unmarketable while they have more Celtic Cross winners in Micheal Houlihan, Barry Hennessy, Paddy O’Loughlin and Aaron Costello.

And Kilmallock have had the better of the match up in recent years, having fourteen points to spare when they met in the first round last year. They were also victorious in the 2021 SHC final while Patrickswell’s last win of note in the match up came in the 2016 semi-final as they went on to claim the title.

Regardless of the result, both will make the knockouts, that is for sure, but their championship credentials will be laid out on Thursday with that precious semi-final spot on offer.

Could Doon be in relegation danger

A disastrous start was somewhat offset by a brilliant comeback win against Patrickswell as Doon appeared to get their season off the ground prior to the break. But three weeks later, they were once more put to the sword with Na Piarsaigh putting their encounter to bed inside the opening half hour. Doon leaked four first half goals and seemed powerless to stop the Caherdavin men who blitzed them.

The reigning champions eased off the gas in the second period but Doon couldn’t get any foothold in the contest, eventually falling to a 19-point loss. That result leaves them on -36 after just three games with a win included in that. And with just two rounds to play, their chances of relegation are as high as that of finishing in the top four. Currently they are level on points with Ahane, who they meet in the final round and only two ahead of this Wednesday’s opponents Kildimo Pallaskenry.

16 August 2022; Shane O’Brien of Kilmallock celebrates after the Limerick County Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final match between Kilmallock and Doon at Bruff GAA Club in Bruff, Limerick. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

The City side have lost each of their games in their first year in group one, but have coped admirably in their three outings thus far, appearing to improve in each game. And they will see Wednesday as a huge chance to upset the odds. They pushed Doon all the way in last year’s quarter finals and with the East outfit down a number of players from that clash, KP will sense vulnerability.

One of the pre championship favourites could find themselves in real trouble this evening but will back themselves to rebound as comprehensively as they did in round two. However, it won’t come easy.

Prize on offer in meeting of previous PIHC winners

In group two of the championship, the battle for promotion appears to be between four sides, Ballybrown, Mungret St Pauls, Monaleen and Adare. The former pair are on five points, one ahead of Monaleen with Adare in fourth on three. However, the nature of Mungret St Pauls win last time out has Adare in trouble as they could miss out on the head to head. Yet, Mungret have both Monaleen and Ballybrown yet to play while Adare still have to play last year’s premier intermediate champions in the final round.

There are a number of permutations for each of the sides but the results in this round will tell a lot. Adare will be fancied to move past South Liberties on Wednesday night while Ballybrown will also be heavily favoured to overcome Garryspillane. The standout tie pits the last two premier intermediate champions against each other on Friday evening with a huge incentive for both. Mungret St Pauls know a win will secure a first quarter-final berth this century but similarly, Monaleen can leapfrog their city counterparts should they take the spoils.

14 January 2023; Mark O’Dwyer of Monaleen celebrates after scoring a point during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final match between Monaleen of Limerick and Tooreen of Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Two clubs on the rise, they have missed each other in recent years, both earning promotion from their respective divisions in 2016 while Mungret’s subsequent arrival in the senior ranks last year coincided with Monaleen’s relegation.

This Friday they face off in what promises to be an epic encounter.

County Senior Hurling Championship Round Four Fixtures

Group 1

Kilmallock V Patrickswell, Thursday September 7th in Cappamore at 6.00pm

Ahane V Na Piarsaigh, Thursday September 7th in Claughaun at 6.00pm

Kildimo Pallaskenry V Doon, Wednesday September 6th in Kilmallock at 6.30pm

Group 2

Ballybrown V Garryspillane, Friday September 8th in Fedamore at 6.30pm

Monaleen V Mungret St Pauls, Friday September 8th in Clarina at 6.30pm

Adare V South Liberties, Wednesday September 6th in Mungret at 6.30pm

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