Galway and Royal Dublin’s Barton Shield sides will provide the high quality golf in today’s AlG Cups and Shields National finals but all the excitement may well come from the minnows in the Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals at Carton House.
Looking at recent history, Thurles must be firm favourites for the title as the last four All-Irelands have headed to Munster with Newcastle West and Woodstock winning in 2011 and 2012 before Spanish Point completed back-to-back victories in 2014.
Thurles went down to the Clare men in last year’s Munster decider but gained revenge in this season’s provincial semi-final when they ended Spanish Point’s dreams of three-in-a-row.
Inspired by the Quigley brothers, Shane and Stephen, Thurles went on to win the final against 2011 All-Ireland champions Newcastle West with the Quigleys securing the winning point in the anchor leg for Frank McGrath’s side.
In addition to the Quigley brothers, their father, Tommy will also tee it up in the side that faces a Grange side that had an impressive provincial campaign.
They won the Leinster crown thanks to a dramatic 19th victory over Royal Tara at Portarlington with Brendan Lehane and John Nolan winning the 18th and 19th to deliver the decisive point.
Grange will be looking to the spirit of club talisman and Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley for inspiration to steer them into tomorrow (Friday’s) final, where they will face either Gort or Nuremore.
Gort won the title on their own patch, beating Castlebar in the decider and having won the All Ireland title in 2003 they will be keen to overcome Ulster champions Nuremore, who beat Warrenpoint in the Ulster final for their first provincial crown since 1998.
As for today’s AIG Barton Shield final, Royal Dublin will be highly fancied to win the title for the first time since 1968 and the fourth in the club’s history. All four of the team are recent additions to the club with Shaun Carter coming from Stackstown, Barry Anderson from Co Sligo, Jeff Hopkins from Skerries and Ian O’Rourke from Cork.
“It’s the last year for our manager Mick Chambers so we want to give him something great to go out on,” said Hopkins. “The club have been just great so we’re all keen to get the win.” Galway will be looking to their Connacht interprovincials to lead them in each match with Joe Lyons pointing to 20-year old Ronan Mullarney — a short game specialist — as one of the stars of the future. From 100 yards in, he’s as good as I have seen,” Lyons said. “His putting is amazing.”
8.00 - AIG Pierce Purcell Shield semi-final: Grange v Thurles. 8.45 - AIG Pierce Purcell Shield Semi-final: Nuremore v Gort 10.45 - AIG Junior Cup final 11.30 - AIG Barton Shield Final
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