Reactions ranging from ‘handy enough’ to ‘that will be tough’ have been heard around the county since Saturday night, when the draws for this year’s club championships were made. Our man ‘Sideline View’ runs his eye over the various groupings and gives his own thoughts on what the competitions may bring. Please note that this is a real case of ‘views expressed are those of the writer only, and not of the Wexford County Board’!
Senior Hurling Group A (Rapparees, Adamstown, Oylegate/Glenbrien, Faythe Harriers, Ferns St Aidans, Shelmaliers)
The intermediate champions of the last two years – Adamstown and Oylegate/Glebrien – have been drawn together in this group, and their meeting in Round 2 will have a big bearing on their respective chances of making the quarter-finals and thus avoiding the play-offs to see who drops back to the lower grade.
Last year’s runners-up Faythe Harriers must be fancied to come through this group, but no team here stands out as obviously stronger than the others, and all six have realistic hopes of taking one of the top four spots.
Senior Hurling Group B (St Martins, Cloughbawn, St Annes, Oulart/The Ballagh, Glynn/Barntown, Rathnure)
Both Cloughbawn and Glynn/Barntown had disappointing campaigns last year, and will be hoping for better in 2013. It will be a surprise though if both manage to come through this competitive group, so their meeting in Round 3 will be crucial to the chances of both sides.
Oulart/The Ballagh will be everybody’s fancy to top their group yet again, and it will be a suprise if St Martins and Rathnure don’t follow them through to the last eight.
Senior Football Group A (Horeswood, Shelmaliers, Kilanerin, Castletown, Gusserane, St Martins)
There’s one to really whet the appetite here as north county rivals Castletown and Kilanerin go head-to-head in the opening round of fixtures. Horeswood v Gusserane in the closing round will also be a tasty derby to look forward to in what is a tight group overall with no clear favourite. Still, we expect Horeswood and Castletown to progress, with the other two quarter-final spots wide open amongst the other four sides.
Senior Football Group B (Adamstown, Starlights, Duffry Rovers, St Annes, Fethard, Sarsfields)
This group looks more clearcut. Champions St Annes will surely come through with ease again, and Sarsfields are hotly fancied to join them in the last eight.
At the other end, the Duffry have been struggling in recent years and this draw does them no favours, so they could be bound for the relegation play-offs again. Fethard could be the ones to join them there, leaving the way clear for Starlights to compete in the knock-out stages in their first year back in the top flight.
Intermediate Hurling Group A (Rathgarogue/Cushinstown, St Patrick’s, Ballygarrett, Buffers Alley, Naomh Eanna, Blackwater)
As soon as they were relegated last year, Buffers Alley became everybody’s tip for this year’s intermediate championship, but they won’t have it easy in this group which features no less than three local derbies against other Gorey District teams: St Pat’s, Ballygarrett, and Naomh Eanna.
They may not win all those games but they are still fancied to top the group all the same, while last year’s Intermediate A winners, Naomh Eanna, also look likey they could have the raw materials to be involved at this business stage at this level too.
Intermediate Hurling Group B (Oulart/The Ballagh, Geraldine O Hanrahans, Askamore, HWH-Bunclody, Duffry Rovers, Craanford)
Last year’s runners-up HWH-Bunclody and close neighbours and long-time rivals Askamore look the two strongest teams in this group, and are tipped to go through.
The 2011 runners-up, Duffry Rovers, had a difficult year in 2012 and significant improvement will be needed if they are stay out of the bottom two this time round. Geraldine O’Hanrahans are another who might be happy to settle for fourth spot and thus avoid the relegation play-offs.
Intermediate Football Group A (Kilrush, Ferns St Aidans, Bannow/Ballymitty, St James, HWH-Bunclody, Ballyhogue)
A close and competitive group, where HWH-Bunclody will be expected to take one of the four qualifying spots as they maintain realistic chances of doing an intermediate ‘double’.
Ballyhogue – who beat them in last year’s quarter-finals – might have something to say about that though, and it looks close enough between the remaining teams, though maybe the chances of Kilrush can be discounted if there’s truth to the stories that they’re more likely to be concentrating on hurling this year, under the guidance of 1996 All-Ireland winner Eamon Scallan.
Intermediate Football Group B (Taghmon/Camross, Craanford, St Fintans, Clongeen, St Marys Rosslare, Glynn/Barntown)
Clongeen and Glynn/Barntown look the two strongest sides here. It’s hard to assess the chances of St Mary’s (Rosslare) until their situation with playing numbers becomes clearer, while of the others, last year’s Intermediate ‘A’ winners St Fintans may well be able to carry good form into this year’s campaign too, and could get through in third or fourth spot.
Intermediate ‘A’ Hurling Group A (St Mary’s Rosslare, Liam Mellows, Horeswood, Rathnure, Clongeen, Buffers Alley)
This is the toughest group of all we’ve encountered so far to make a call on, because of various factors, including the presence of four ‘first’ teams and two ‘second’ teams, the uncertainty over Rosslare players, and the extent to which Clongeen might concentrate on football rather than hurling as they try to win back senior status there.
In fact, it’s so tough to make a call that we won’t even try. Surely we’re allowed to sit one out!
Intermediate ‘A’ Hurling Group B (Monageer/Boolavogue, Crossabeg/Ballymurn, Fethard, Marshalstown/Castledockrell, Ballyfad, Shamrocks)
This looks the stronger of the two groups in this competition, and the three Enniscorthy District sides – including last year’s runners-up, Marshalstown/Castledockrell – are fancied to go through. Crossabeg/Ballymurn could be the ones joining them.
Intermediate ‘A’ Football Group A (Davidstown/Courtnacuddy, Clonard, Cloughbawn, Naomh Eanna, St Patrick’s, Geraldine O’Hanrahans)
Naomh Eanna were beaten in the final of this competition in 2012, and will be hoping to go one better this time round. They definitely have the firepower to come through this group.
Meanwhile, Geraldine O Hanrahans weren’t too far off the pace either last time, as the Gorey side needed a repaly to beat them in the semi-final, so they are tipped to qualify as well. After that, it’s take your pick of any two of the other four!
Intermediate ‘A’ Football Group B (Realt Na Mara, Kilmore, Oylegate/Glenbrien, Kilanerin, St Mary’s Maudlintown, Marshalstown/Castledockrell)
It’s likely that Oylegate/Glenbrien will be concentrating on hurling this year as they campaign at senior level there, so we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not challengers here. Marshalstown/ Castledockrell might also have a preference for the small ball game, but overall there’s not much to choose between the sides and a lot will depend on the efforts made by Kilanerin’s second string.