No other clubs have won the title since Lismore triumphed in 1993 while the duo have met in eight of the intervening finals.
Despite losing their final group game to De La Salle, ‘Sion will be marginal favourites. In Ken and Eoin McGrath and Tony Browne they have a trio of hugely talented hurlers while the retirement of stalwarts Stephen Frampton and Billy O’Sullivan has weakened the Gunners. Paul Flynn remains their trump card along with Shane O’Sullivan, Andy Moloney, and Wayne Hutchinson and though they have a rich pool of exciting young talent, it may be another year or two before they realise their full potential.
Tomorrow’s second quarter-final pits Lismore and De La Salle at Fraher Field, Dungarvan (4.45pm).
Big Dan Shanahan will be Lismore’s ace while Dave Bennett will be a key figure along with his brother Eoin, William Cunningham, and former county goalkeeper Brendan Landers.
De La Salle will be buoyed-up following their group stage victory over Mount Sion — achieved without John Mullane. The All-star is back tomorrow and along with Brian Phelan, Kevin Moran, and James Quirke, will backbone the side. De La Salle are deserving favourites, but need to halt Shanahan from weaving his goal scoring magic if they are to progress.
This afternoon, Fraher Field hosts a double-header with Abbeyside and Tallow clashing at 3pm while Ballyduff Upper and Fourmilewater meet at 4.30pm.
Abbeyside, having seen off Seamas Prendergast’s Ardmore last weekend, should progress against a Tallow outfit heavily dependant on county duo James Murray and All-star nominee Aidan Kearney.
When the sides met in last year’s championship, Abbeyside won with ease, but can expect a much stiffer challenge from a Tallow side who defeated Lismore in the group stages.
The second game is another all-west divisional clash between Ballyduff Upper and Fourmilewater, the latter the surprise packets of this stage.
Ballyduff have come from intermediate ranks two years ago to be considered contenders for senior honours, and driven by Tom Feeney and Stephen Molumphy are the dark horse in this title race.
They may also welcome back former county player Michael Molumphy after a hand injury sustained in the All-Ireland IHC final against Wexford, and his return would bolster the side.
Fourmilewater, who drew with Tallow last time out, won’t lack confidence. Shane Walsh, who made the county team this year, will be key to their cause, along with Liam Lawlor and Justin, Liam and Pat Walsh.