Pat Gilligan in action for Seir Kieran against K/K.
THERE was not any real shocks but Coolderry and Shinrone were the standout winners when the first round of the 2021 Molloy Enviromental Systems Senior Hurling Championship took place last week.
There were predictable wins for champions, St Rynagh's, Kilcormac-Killoughey and Birr while Coolderry and Shinrone really performed, setting down emphatic markers in impressive victories over Belmont and Ballinamere.
The Coolderry and Shinrone wins were the big ones as they came in what were expected to be the tightest contests of the weekend, close to 50/50 battles. The wins will also send Belmont and Ballinamere back to the drawing board. Belmont have been knocking on the door for a few years while Ballinamere have a lot of young talent but both gave disappointing displays.
Shinrone were in fine form as they beat Ballinamere by 4-18 to 2-15 while Coolderry were in control for the most part in their 0-26 to 0-16 win over Belmont.
The other games went exactly as expected. Champions St Rynagh's hit the ground running with an easy 0-23 to 1-12 win over Kinnitty while Kilcormac-Killoughey began to throw off some of the cobwebs from a bad performance in the recent 2020 county final defeat with a run away 3-25 to 0-15 win over Seir Kieran. In the other game, an improving Birr side had a 2-19 to 0-15 win over Drumcullen. Birr were missing Eoghan Cahill and were pushed hard by a brave Drumcullen side in the first half.
Birr led by 0-10 to 0-9 at half time but Drumcullen had Kevin Fleury sent off eight minutes from the break and that left them with a mountain to climb in the second half.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups of five, with each playing the clubs in the opposite groups. The top four teams overall go into two semi-finals and it means it will be the third round before a definite knockout picture becomes clear.
The first round comfirmed a lot of what was already known. St Rynagh's are the championship favourites and the team to beat while Kilcormac-Killoughey, Coolderry and Birr look to be their main challengers. Shinrone will be dark horses after their win over Ballinamere but they remain outsiders and will need to take really big scalps to make people stand up and take notice.
Round 2 takes place on the weekend of Septmber 11/12 and the fixtures are: Kinnitty v Drumcullen, Ballinamere v St Rynagh's, Coolderry v Shinrone, Kilcormac-Killoughey v Belmont, Birr v Seir Kieran.
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