Weekend Lone Shark Predictions - 17th April

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Weekend Lone Shark Predictions - 17th April

Post by Lone Shark » Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:34 pm

Gracefield vs St. Brigid’s
7pm Friday, Rhode

A quick reflection on the meetings between these two teams at the penultimate stage of last year’s championship illustrates perfectly the unpredictability of this fixture. In the drawn encounter St. Brigid’s missed a penalty and several good chances, and would have been deserved winners. The replay saw Gracefield assert themselves in no uncertain fashion and put the match beyond doubt by half time.
While you couldn’t see a repeat of that one sided encounter happening this Friday in Rhode, it’s hard to say that Gracefield could be anything other than favourites to start their 2005 campaign off with a win. Karol Slattery has been in flying form for the county in recent weeks after a slow start, while Tom Fitzpatrick was one of the best performers for the Under 21s in their narrow loss to Meath. Both operate around the middle third of the pitch, and they have the potential to handle a lot of ball and create good chances for the inside men.
St. Brigid’s in contrast will struggle to match that kind of quality, and even though James Carroll has the potential to have a very influential game from the middle of the field, and Enda Egan should as always marshal things well at the back, Gracefield’s greater armoury up front, even in the absence of the traveling John O’Neill, should leave them with three or four to spare at the end.

Verdict: Gracefield

Bracknagh vs Edenderry
7pm Saturday, Walsh Island

No doubt several members of Bracknagh’s playing and management personnel were in attendance in Ballinamere to see their opponents open their campaign with a draw last Saturday, and they’ll have taken a lot of encouragement from the strong performance by Shannonbridge, who perhaps were the unluckier of the two sides to only take one point.
That said, Shannonbridge still needed to score thirteen points to draw with the Reds, and based on recent form you couldn’t see Bracknagh replicating that. A senior club since 2000, players like the Barrons, Weldons and Breretons have put in countless fine performances for their club in the years gone by, but the task of avoiding relegation this year looks daunting and ultimately may prove beyond them.
Edenderry know that this is a must win game for them, and their half back line of Finbarr Cullen, county minor Richie Dalton and club captain John Hurst should be able to dominate sufficiently to give their club the platform to take the win and put them on top of group C.

Verdict: Edenderry

Clara vs Seir Keiran
6.15pm Sunday, Kilcormac

With four of the five front runners for the Offaly Senior Championship this year drawn together in Group A, clubs such as these two have a much clearer route to the quarter finals than would have been anticipated. With Shinrone and Kinnitty to play as well as county champions Coolderry, the winner here will have taken a big step towards having a long summer.
Clara surprised a lot of people in 2004 when putting three Championship wins together before finding Kilcormac/Killoughey too hot to handle in the quarter final. For long time stalwart and leading scorer Christy Flanagan it was some overdue recognition as one of the most talented hurlers in the county, for a man who had hitherto flown very much under the radar. A natural hurler who would be a regular on any club side in the county, he’ll once again be the talisman his team mates will look to.
The Clareen side should still have enough to take the points, even allowing for the standard Flanagan heroics. Their heroes of the nineties may be getting on in years, but they continue to be fine performers at club level, and in Joe Bergin they have probably the most promising minor hurler in the county for some years. They won’t have everything their own way, but still should find themselves two points better off by Sunday night.

Verdict: Seir Kieran

Tullamore vs Shamrocks
7pm Saturday, Killurin

Two clubs with very similar profiles kick off the 2005 Offaly Hurling Championship on Saturday night. Both are well populated clubs who would traditionally be more associated with the big ball game rather than its’ small ball cousin, both have put in some fine performances in recent years at senior level while struggling to match the established powers, and both clubs have been fielding some very talented underage teams over the past few years.
This year in particular the potential in both sides was underlined, Shamrocks losing by a single point to Coolderry after beating St. Brendan’s in the first round, and Tullamore beating Drumcullen by nine points after a replay at under 21 level.
In Shane Dooley and James Keane Tullamore appear to have the upper hand, at least at first glance. The added scoring threat that these two present will be a considerable factor in Shamrock’s preparations during the week, and the Rahan side’s already porous defence (80 points conceded in five games against Group C opposition in 2004) will be hard pressed to keep these two tyros in check.
Shamrocks do appear on paper to have a greater proportion of their team at their peak age, with several hurlers in their mid twenties set to line out. The likes of Neville Coughlan, Stephen Delaney and Shane Cunningham are all at their best, and would be capable of providing some outstanding leading by example. With so many players from both clubs having lined out last Saturday in Clara, Shamrocks should also take great heart from having edged that tight encounter, and will take a slight psychological edge into this game.
With Lusmagh and Belmont looking very competitive in 2005, it’s difficult to see either side losing this encounter and still filling a top two slot at the end of the campaign. Both sides will be aware of this, and in an evenly matched game, to pick any winner would be merely having a guess. A share of the spoils is possibly just as likely as either side edging the other, and in the quintessential 50-50 game, that’s the call of the Shark.

Verdict: Draw

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