AS 13 teams get set to battle it out over the coming months for the chance to make it to the Finals Day in September, Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes an overview of how it shapes up across the three groups.
NOW in its third year, the National Inter-Club competition begins in earnest this weekend as 13 teams from 10 counties will do battle for a title claimed by both the St Annes club in Cork and St Patricks of Wexford in its young existence. The latter are back to defend their title in 2015 and find themselves in a group of five teams alongside the only side to beat them in 2014, namely fellow CKW club Bagenalstown of Carlow.
That loss came in the Group Stages of last year’s competition and it serves as an interesting opening fixture in Group C as both teams will travel to the neutral territory of Gowran in Co Kilkenny to do battle. There is also a Tipperary derby in the other match in Group C as last year’s beaten semi-finalists (losing out to St Pats interestingly enough in that match) Lakeside travel to Larkspur Park to take on Tipperary Hills who are on a bit of a high at the moment after victory in the Tipperary Spring League last month. Cunnigar of Waterford are the other team in this five team group and they will have to wait until the next round to make their bow as they will begin their campaign with a match against Tipp Hills in Fermoy.
Group A is a distinctly Leinster group with two teams from Westmeath as well as one each from Dublin and Louth. Collinstown made it to the decider last year and will be hoping to at least match that feat on this occasion as they begin against fellow Westmeath side Lough Owel in Rochfortbridge. 2013 semi-finalists Lucan are involved this year and they will take on Cement of Louth in their opening fixture.
Group B meanwhile is firmly of Munster interest with two sides from Kerry and one each from Clare and Limerick. Continuing the derby theme to the opening round, both Kerry sides will face off. 2013 runners-up Deerpark face Tralee in Castleisland with the Killarney club looking to maintain their good record over their Tralee counterparts since this event was inaugurated. The other Group B fixture has a slight feel of derby too even if both sides are registered in different county boards as Clare Road and Parteen do battle. Both teams will travel to Tipperary Hills hoping to get their respective campaigns off to the best possible start.
Remember in this format only the Group winners are guaranteed their place in the last four with the best second place team across the three groups joining them in making up our semi-finalists in September. This makes the margin for error for minimal to say the least across all the matches that will be played.
We wish all 13 teams the best of luck (or maybe that’s the wrong word to use with the number involved!) across the next couple of months in trying to make it to September.
Next Week: We take a look at the Scratch Gents Competition
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