25 Sept 2022

Semi-finals down for decision in highly competitive Offaly Senior B Hurling Championship

Offaly Senior “B” Hurling Championship moving towards conclusion

Clara and Tullamore have big hurling games this weekend

THE Offaly Senior “B” Hurling Championship is moving towards its conclusion and there are two very interesting semi-finals on this weekend as well as an intriguing relegation play off.


Tullamore v Kilcormac-Killoughey: Saturday, September 3 in Banagher at 6pm

It would be very ironic if Tullamore evict Kilcormac-Killoughey from the Senior “B” Hurling Championship on Saturday evening and that is a live possibility.

Tullamore would have been gone if Kilcormac-Killoughey had drawn with Drumcullen in their last group game – K-K had a penalty deep in injury time with a point separating the sides but went for goal, the ball was cleared and Tullamore barely survived.

Shane Dooley will be back from suspension for this and Tullamore are a much different proposition with him on board. Beaten in the final last year, they will fancy their chances here.

Kilcormac-Killoughey qualified for the semi-finals as group winners while Tullamore came through in fourth place, yet those statistics should be ignored. It is more or less a 50-50 game – it is Tullamore's first team, K-K's second and that makes a difference. Tullamore also won their earlier meeting, 2-15 to 0-20 and that shows how tight this game could be.

It should be a fine game of hurling and it should go right down to the wire. K-K's form has been generally good and they have a huge array of talent in the club. They get the nod to edge it.

Verdict – Kilcormac-Killoughey.

Clara v Birr: Saturday, September 3 in O'Connor Park at 4.00pm

The Senior “B” Hurling Championship is one of the most competitive and entertaining Offaly championships. It is fiercely competitive with every team having had some sort of a chance and Birr and Clara show the type of progress that can be made.

Neither were among the real short list of favourites at the start of the year but one of them will be in the final and both have an equal chance. Birr won the intermediate last year and the early indications were that they would struggle at the higher grade. They lost their opening two games to Drumcullen and Clara but have improved significantly, and dramatically, since then.

A surprise narrow win over Tullamore changed their season and they then had a great win over Kilcormac-Killoughey followed by a narrow one over Lusmagh to secure their semi-final place. They are in very good form and considering that Birr is very much hurling territory, they might be slight favourites here.

Clara, however, command total respect. They have lost to Kilcormac-Killoughey and Drumcullen, beaten Birr, Tullamore and Lusmagh. Their defeat against Drumcullen in their last game didn't really matter as qualification was assured and they will really fancy their chances of making the final. Clara's unlucky defeat by Ferbane in the Senior Football Championship quarter-final on Saturday will help their hurlers as this team will now be the priority in the club.

This is a real hard game to call and no result will cause any surprise.

Verdict – Clara.

Relegation play off

Drumcullen v Lusmagh: Sunday, September 4 in Birr at 2.00pm

It might be a senior “B” relegation play off but one of the most interesting, compelling fixtures of the weekend is the clash of Drumcullen and Lusmagh.

They are hugely traditional hurling clubs and both will be absolutely desperate to avoid dropping down to the third tier. Drumcullen are one of Offaly's iconic hurling clubs. They were a real dominant force for many of the early decades of the GAA and their rivalry with Coolderry is part of folklore in the county. The last of their 17 titles was won in 1960 and in recent years, they have not been able to stay in the top flight. They were relegated out of senior hurling last year and going down in successive years would be a bitter pill to swallow.

Lusmagh don't have the same track record, the same success rate as Drumcullen. Located close to Banagher, their only Senior Hurling Championship was won in 1989 but in its own way, their tradition is equally as strong, as profound. They have a deep, passionate, infectious love of the ancient game and they always try and compete at the highest level possible.

There are similarities between both. They are rural clubs with no village or town centre and declining population has been an issue for some times. Yet they continue to display a great appetite for hurling and you have to admire the way they keep going to the well. Who will win this one?

Hard to know. Lusmagh's only win was actually against Drumcullen, in round 4, and that kept them in with a hope of going into the knockout stages in the final round. There was only a point separating them and you can expect another tight, ferociously fought battle with no quarter asked or given.

Overall, Drumcullen performed better. While Lusmagh lost four games, Drumcullen won two and drew one. Had K-K tapped that late penalty over the bar against Tullamore, Drumcullen would be in a semi-final. That might have knocked the stuffing out of them and Drumcullen are certainly capable of very bad days at the office. They need to get back on the horse immediately and if they do, they can survive but it will be very close.

Verdict – Drumcullen.

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