Castleblayney chasing All-Ireland semi-final spot
All-Ireland Junior Hurling Club Championship quarter-final: John Mitchell’s (Birmingham) v Castleblayney (Monaghan) (tomorrow, Páirc na hÉireann, 1pm)
THE Castleblayney hurlers will attempt to reach their second All-Ireland semi-final in five seasons when they take on Birmingham side John Mitchel’s at Páirc na hÉireann tomorrow afternoon.
Back in 2014 their Ulster final win secured a spot in the last four, where they lost to British outfit Fullen Gaels, but they must go through the quarter-final route this time around.
That 2-18 to 1-7 defeat to the Manchester side in January 2015 should serve as a warning shot ahead of tomorrow’s clash – the British champions are no easy touch in this competition.
Managers Jim Lacey and Barry O’Reilly will also have to make do without inspirational captain Peter Treanor after his late dismissal in their dramatic Ulster final win over Cushendun. Mark Treanor did return from injury for their last few provincial games though, and he will lead the attack along with the experienced Brian McGuigan and free-taker Fergal Rafter.
It was Rafter who landed the winning free in the Ulster final to take his tally to 0-11 for the day. It goes without saying that his dead-ball striking will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this encounter.
The Mitchel’s have some Ulster representation in their squad, most notably Antrim duo Niall McKenna and Domhnall Nugent and Down forward Kelvin Magee. Liam Watson, however, is no longer involved.
McKenna was in inspirational form in their British final win over Thomas McCurtain’s while Nugent has settled in well after transferring to the club recently. Ballela man Magee struck 0-2 in the British final.
A stiff examination awaits the Farney men, but they have found a way through some difficult Ulster encounters and they can secure a spot in the last four.