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Silver Hill Foods Senior Hurling Championship Final Preview

posted 30 Jul 2010, 16:23 by Jonathan Tavey   [ updated 5 Feb 2012, 04:48 ]

Castleblayney v Inniskeen, Sunday, 7.00pm, Aughnamullen
By Colm Shalvey

Castleblayney will be attempting to win the Senior Hurling Championship for the seventh year in a row when they take on Inniskeen in the final. Blayney have dominated Monaghan hurling in recent years, winning 10 of the last 11 championships, but they won’t have it all their own way this time against an Inniskeen team who have been the form team so far this year and who are determined to win their first ever SHC title. These teams are undoubtedly the best hurling sides in the county, with both easing through the semi-finals with plenty to spare – remarkably, both sides hit 6-13 last time out.

Comfortable wins against Clontibret and Monaghan Harps have seen Blayney qualify for yet another final. They had a double-scores win against Clontibret, before finishing strongly to comfortably see off the Harps, hitting three goals in the last 10 minutes. Blayney, who won their 25th SHC title last year, are closing in on Clontibret’s record of eight titles in a row between 1980 and 1987.

Inniskeen got a bye to the semi-finals, where they hammered Carrickmacross, conceding just six points in the process. Inniskeen’s only previous appearance in the SHC Final was in 2006, when they lost to Castleblayney. The south-Monaghan men did, however, go on to win their only SHL to date in the same year.

Inniskeen have been in flying form in the Senior Hurling League this year, winning all seven games to date and amassing an impressive score-difference of +121, which gives them an average winning margin of more than 17 points. The Grattans have already secured their place in the SHL Semi Final and they are also through to the final of the Reserve Hurling League. Blayney, who won the double last year, haven’t been quite as consistent as usual so far this season, with four wins and three defeats from their seven matches, but they have won their last two games to move up to second place in the table. Inniskeen had an eight-point win at Páirc Grattan when the sides clashed at the end of May.

Both clubs can call on several players with county experience. Mickey McHugh’s accuracy, particularly from frees, is key for Blayney, while the pace of Barry Reilly and Brian McGuigan and the finishing power of Stephen Lambe are also real assets up front. Deaglán Crowe and Alan Lambe make up a strong midfield partnership, while the main men in the backline are Jim McHugh, Peter and Mark Treanor and captain Paul Murphy, who could have an interesting battle with Inniskeen full-forward David McGahon.

Ronan Meegan, Michael Lennon and Martin Murphy are the main sharpshooters for Inniskeen, with Trevor Hilliard and Gavin Dooley likely to play at midfield. Pauric Dowdall and Séamus Loftus should man the central defensive positions, while Kevin Boylan and Paul Meegan will also have big parts to play. Both teams also have county goalkeepers, as Blayney’s Hugh Byrne and Inniskeen’s Gerard Ruddy battled it out for the Monaghan number one jersey this year.

This game could well go down to the wire and if it lives up to its billing, a cracker could be in store.