Match Preview: SYLANE vs FETHARD (Saturday, 3pm Parnell Park) 

Sylane Hurling

(Picture – Galway GAA)

After the most successful year in their history, Sylane hope for third time lucky in the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship when they face St. Mogue’s, Fethard in Saturday’s semi-final. 

Galway clubs have never won this competition since its inception in 2003 and Sylane’s previous two attempts ended in disappointment at the penultimate hurdle.

They suffered a heavy defeat to Tipperary’s Moyle Rovers in 2008 before going down 0-10 to 0-4 against Derry’s Eoghan Rua in 2016.

But this year has been different for the north Galway club who not just won the County Junior 1 championship that qualified them for this game, but they completed a domestic treble taking the Connacht title as well as Galway’s Junior ‘A’ crown.

The latter 3-18 to 1-8 win over Tommy Larkins finally brought Walter Burke’s team into intermediate hurling and they begin 2018 full of confidence as hurling continues to grow in the province.

Kevin Brady’s return from Castlegar has been a major boost and he struck 1-2 against Larkins.  Alan Cullinane contributed the same, Oran Martin got a goal while Gary O’Neill and Stephen Reilly shared six points in the emphatic win.

They’ve kept their heads down over the winter following the hype that included their 0-21 to 0-5 win over Sligo’s Calry/St. Joseph’s in the provincial decider but know the stakes rise significantly now against Leinster opposition.

Even though St. Mogue’s, Fethard were first time provincial winners before beating London’s Brother Pearse in the All-Ireland quarter-final, they defeated Kilkenny opposition on their way (the county that produced seven of the previous 14 winners).

After beating Duffy Rovers 1-13 to 0-13 in the Wexford Final, Graham O’Grady’s goal helped them to a 1-7 to 2-11 victory in the Leinster Final and they come into this game as 4/7 favourites.

Mark Wallace is their top scorer, Mikie Dwyer and John Tubritt are dangerous threats while Garrett Foley and Daire Barden will need to be watched.

Cathal Burke will lead the Sylane defence as they look to make light of their 6/4 offering with the bookies but with the shackles off, they won’t fear any opposition even if their opponents are a Wexford intermediate club.

This is hard to call as St. Mogue’s are equally as inexperienced as their opponents.  But Sylane’s win over Tommy Larkins could be the springboard for further success and at the third time of asking, they might get their day in Croke Park against Waterford’s Ardmore or Donegal’s Setanta (who meet on Sunday).

Verdict: Sylane