Ballyduff and Stradbally set for close encounter

The eyes of the hurling world will be focussed on the All-Ireland final in Croke Park on Sunday, but it’s also a weekend of hectic domestic championship action in both codes in Waterford.

With titleholders Mount Sion, their arch rivals Ballygunner and Fourmilewater (for an historic first time) all in the senior hurling semi-finals the battle is well and truly on in the losers’ group for the remaining place in the penultimate round.

No fewer than three games in the group will be played, starting with tonight’s meeting of Ballyduff Upper and Stradbally in Ardmore (6.15pm) and, barring draws, a clouded position regarding that remaining semi-final spot should become clearer.

Tomorrow at Leamybrien (5pm) Lismore and Roanmore meet in what could be the best game of the weekend, although the fans will turn up in huge numbers too that same evening for the meeting of Tallow and De La Salle at Stradbally (6.15pm).

There are also two make-or-break losers’ group games in the senior football championship, the pick of them the renewal of rivalry between Nire and Ardmore at Leamybrien tomorrow evening (6.15pm).

On Sunday at 6pm, the fans of Kilrossanty and Kill will have a hurried trip to Stradbally after the All-Ireland hurling final for the meeting of their clubs in another winner take all game in the football title race.

Tonight’s game between Ballyduff Upper and Stradbally is, coincidentally, a repeat of the first round, which Ballyduff won with something to spare. They flopped last week, however, to Fourmilewater, while Stradbally were looking very sharp in their four-point win over former championship kingpins Portlaw. It should be much closer this time and, while the Tom Feeney-led Ballyduff will be the favourites, a Stradbally win wouldn’t be a major surprise.

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