Champions Thurles CBS have impressed in their title defence but face an acid test against Nenagh CBS in Templemore. Thurles breezed through their three round robin ties scoring 5-55 (including victory over Nenagh, 0-16 to 0-10) before pipping Clare giants St Flannan’s in a magnificent quarter-final.
Arguably the best Harty Cup hurler on view this year has been Thurles centre back Denis Maher and his performance will be a huge factor in deciding the outcome. But this isn’t a one-man team by any means. Stephen Maher and Pa Dunne have shone while up front the pace of Mike O’Brien, the towering figure of Darragh Devane and the superb free taking of Aidan McCormack will give Thurles an edge.
Nenagh won’t be any pushover. They caused a shock defeating DLS Waterford in the quarters and will relish this opportunity to atone for their defeat in the group stages. They have the best midfielder in the competition in county minor Brian Stapleton and he along with full back John O’Dwyer, Daire Quinn, John O’Brien and Colm Canning will ensure a stern test for the champions.
The second clash between St. Caimin’s, Shannon and Ard Scoil Ris, is a repeat of last year’s semi-final which Caimin’s won in a replay. Caimin’s can call on half of their 2009 squad and look a good bet to make another final. They won two of their three group games and drew the other before seeing off Midleton CBS team in the quarter-final. The strength of their side is in a defence led by Enda Boyce, Kevin Lynch and Noel Purcell while Frank Melody and Cathal O’Connor are strong at centre field. Shane Liddy, Aaron Cunningham, Pa Sheehan and Alan Mulready are key attacking threats.
The Limerick school are keen to progress to a first final. Like their opponents, they won two and drew one in their group, but struggled to beat Our Lady’s in the quarter-final.
Declan Hannon who scored 1-13 out of 1-14 for Adare against Newtownshandrum in the Munster Club SHC plays at centre back for Ard Scoil and if they could move him upfield it would strengthen their attack considerably. But they have other scorers in John Fitzgibbon, Jamie Shanahan and Kevin Downs and that attacking threat may prove decisive.
Both games throw in at 2.30pm.