By Kevin Regan
At the beginning of the year this writer felt that Naomh Eoin, St Mullins and Mount Leinster Rangers were a slight level ahead of the chasing pack in the Carlow Senior Hurling Championship.
And like most of my predictions so far this summer I couldn’t have got it more wrong!
But what has emerged is three championships within one championship.
Results so far this suggest that pace setters Mount Leinster Rangers and reigning champions St Mullins are on one level. Apart from the first round tie which MLR defeated St Mullins, results have been recorded comprehensively for the most part.
Naomh Eoin, Ballinkillen and Erins Own are definitely a yard off the pace, with the Myshall outfit failing to build on a decent Kilkenny League campaign which saw them defeat Mount Leinster Rangers on route to the final.
Ballinkillen defeated Naomh Eoin in the first round, while Erins Own beat Ballinkillen and all three of those teams also saw off Naomh Bríd who unfortunately are another level further back.
Ahead of this weekends final round clashes, few would have expected Naomh Eoin to only have two points to their name and for them it’s knockout hurling from here on with a crunch meeting against Erin’s Own in the pipeline this weekend.
And even a victory may not guarantee them a semi final spot with score difference likely to determine who joins MLR and St Mullins in the semi final.
If Ballinkillen pull out all the stops and defeat St Mullins- which will take some doing- then a victory for Naomh Eoin would give them a semi final spot at the expense of Erin’s Own, who in turn would qualify if they draw or win.
It promises to be a very interesting weekend of Hurling ahead and unfortunately we are reduced to just two games with Naomh Brid having pulled out of the championship.
If things go according to plan this year in terms of my predictions then Naomh Eoin will probably beat Erins Own and Ballinkillen will see off St Mullins just to continue the trend in terms of the polar opposite outcome occurring!
Regardless of what happens this weekend it’s very difficult to look past either Mount Leinster Rangers or St Mullins as the outright winners and you get the feeling that if a seismic shock is to occur then the remaining three clubs will have to pull out all the stops and beat both of the south county clubs.
Easier said than done!