ALL-IRELAND Club senior hurling champions Clarinbridge yesterday won the trip of a lifetime to Australia but their involvement in this year’s Galway championship may prevent theirleading stars from jetting off later this month.
The Galway powerhouse, home of county hurlers Alan and Mark Kerins as well as David Forde were named as winners of the Best Club Down Under competition organised by All-Ireland SHC sponsors Etihad Airways.
They won the public vote on www.etihadgaa.ie ahead of the other shortlisted clubs — Dublin’s Kilmacud Crokes, Bishopstown of Cork and Wexford outfit Glynn-Barntown.
The club are now entitled to a week-long trip to Australia, where they will be trained by 2001 Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager Nicky English and will participate in achallenge game against an Australian club selection in the curtain-raiser to the first test in this year’s International Rules Series between Ireland andAustralia in the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on October 28th.
Clarinbridge will send a team to Australia but county championship commitments could rule out members of the club’s senior side fromembarking on the trip as they continue to mount a defence of the Galway senior hurling crown they claimed last November. Clarinbridge drew with Mullagh in the quarter-final of this year’s championship last Sunday in Athenry with the replay set to take place this weekend.
If Clarinbridge win they will face Craughwell in a semi-final with St Thomas playing Gort in the other last four clash. Those semi-finals are provisionally pencilled in for October 22-23, the same weekend that Clarinbridge are due to depart for Australia. That schedule may be altered due to the draw in last Sunday’s encounter but with the county final fixed for November 6, the reigning champions could still face a fixture dilemma.
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