Ratoath v St. Peter’s Dunboyne
Referee – Michael Butler (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
Venue – Ratoath
What a mouth-watering encounter we have to get Division 1A of the Minor Hurling Championship started on Saturday as St. Peter’s Dunboyne take the short trip to Ratoath. With the top team from the group of three heading directly to the final, there does not appear to be any margin for error any by 14:30 on Saturday one of the main contenders for the Championship could well be clinging onto their aspirations by their fingertips.
Ratoath were beaten finalists in 2019 and after winning the U-16 League the same year, are the team many people fancy to lift the Tony Donnelly Cup but they are coming into the game on the back of a disappointing loss to Trim in the League semi-final a few weeks back. They will look to the likes of Ciaran Rogers, Sean Corbett and Will Lanigan to step up and drive the side on and with Donal Rogers and Sean Donnelly likely to be the scorers in chief they have all the ability to make this opening game a winning one.
St. Peter’s Dunboyne appear to have improved markedly this season and much may depend on how well their key players recovered from a tough LMFM MFC game on Wednesday against Duleek-Bellewstown. Simon Cunningham was excellent in that game and if he can transfer that form across to the hurling, he could be one of the stars of the Championship. Eoghan McCormack is likely to line out around the middle of the field and if he and Cathal Melian can hit top form then it could be the perfect ending to the week for the Dunboyne youngsters.
Verdict – St. Peter’s Dunboyne
Killyon/Longwood v BYE
Kildalkey v Trim
Referee – Bernard Heaney (Clann na nGael)
Venue – Kildalkey
Every game in the MHC is a huge game and nothing exemplifies this like the clash of Kildalkey and Trim on Saturday. These sides met at the end of July in the League when in a most eye-catching result, Trim came away with a scarcely believable eighteen point winning margin from a game in which Kildalkey were regarded as the more likely winners. Whether there was an element of shadow boxing that evening with Kildalkey knowing they would be meeting again 4 weeks later in the Championship is open to speculation but one thing is for sure and Trim will have taken huge confidence from the win, which they then backed up with by winning the semi-final against Ratoath.
Trim are going for a third Tony Donnelly Cup success in a row and they will make travel to Kildalkey full of confidence. In Joey Cole they have one of the best marksmen of his age in the county and he will punish any disciplinary indiscretions in the Kildalkey defence while in goal Kyle Ennis’ reflexes means he is very rarely beaten. Josh Harris, who operates in defence for the football side, is likely to be on the forty on Saturday and he is capable of marrying a physical presence with a high skill level.
Kildalkey, having being licking their wounds for the past month will be eagerly looking forward to avenging that defeat and know they are a much better side than that result may suggest. Where Brian O’Halloran lines out will be interesting to observe as he is a talented shot stopper but can also be highly effective outfield and possesses an eye for a score. At full back Cormac Browne is an old-fashioned stopper while if Sam Sweeney lines out at centre back his duel with Harris will be pivotal. Up front Ryan Byas is possibly the key player and he will need to be at his disciplined best if Kildalkey are to pick up the win.
Verdict – Trim
Rathmolyon v BYE
Dunderry v Kiltale/Boardsmill
Referee – Stephen Dowling (Navan O’Mahonys)
Venue – Dunderry
The bare League form would suggest that Dunderry are likely to pick up the points here, having defeated Kiltale/Boardsmill by five points in Kiltale earlier this year and topped the group of the League they both contested. Form from February and March can often have little relevance come August though and Kiltale/Boardsmill are likely to be much improved at this stage of the season.
Kiltale won the Division 2 title on their own last year while Dunderry were the victors twelve months previously. This match is likely to go down to the wire and there is every chance that when Stephen Dowling sounds the final whistle the teams may be inseparable.
Verdict – Draw
Wolfe Tones v BYE
Kilmessan v Clann na nGael
Referee – Martin Ennis
Venue – Dunsany
With their own pitch still out of commission, Kilmessan are utilising Dunsany as their home venue for this Division 2B encounter against Clann na nGael who have dropped down from Division 1. Darragh Horan and James Cahill are likely to line out together at midfield and the industrious duo will be looking to feed Padraic Horan and Scott Armstrong in the forward line. With the right supply of ball, they are capable of causing untold damage.
Clann na nGael, while regarded as favourites for the Championship will be very wary of Kilmessan and know that this is a very stiff challenge. Evan Cole and Eugene O’Reilly will need to be at their brilliant best if the Athboy/Ráth Chairn outfit are to take anything from this encounter. It will not be easy, but they may just have enough to make a winning start.
Verdict – Clann na nGael
Na Fianna v BYE
Navan O’Mahonys v Donaghmore/Ashbourne
Referee – Peter O’Halloran (Drumconrath)
Venue – Paddy O’Brien Park
Davy Gaughan leads Donaghmore into action on Saturday in Paddy O’Brien Park and while they had their difficulties in the Spring League, they would appear to be a shade stronger than O’Mahonys who are fielding on their own for their first time in years in the Minor Hurling Championship.
Verdict – Donaghmore/Ashbourne
Loughcrew Gaels/Gaeil Colmcille v BYE