The senior and senior ‘A’ hurling county finalists are now known and while we still have the semi-finals in the intermediate and junior championships to come, it’s really down to business now.
We’ve updated our rankings after last weekend’s action. And we have a new Number 1.
25 – Ballypickas (No Change)
The seven-week break between their Round 2 game and their semi-final doesn’t do their hopes of going up in the rankings any good but a number of their players did impress in Shanahoe Gaels win over Borris-Kilcotton in the SHC ‘A’ relegation playoff. With a JHC ‘A’ semi-final against Castletown to come – and possibly a final against The Harps or Rathdowney-Errill, they have time on their side to rise again.
24 – Mountmellick (No Change)
23 – Slieve Bloom (No Change)
A win over Portlaoise in their earlier round had boosted their season but they were well beaten by Clough-Ballacolla in the rain in Mountrath on Friday evening. Slip down one place on the back of that 14-point loss.
22 – Park-Ratheniska (No Change)
Very little between themselves, Slieve Bloom and Portlaoise at the lower end of the IHC – as evidenced by Park’s one-point win over Portlaoise on Friday. Drawing Trumera and then Clonad meant they got the shorter straw in their first two games but the manner of their comeback against Portlaoise was encouraging for 2018.
21 – Camross (No change)
Beaten by Clonad after a replay in the IHC quarter-final, their season at this grade is now over. A handful of those players will, however, be looking to feature at some stage for the senior team.
20 – Clonad (No change)
They needed a replay to beat Camross in the IHC and now face a semi-final against Trumera on Saturday week. A win there would send them right up the rankings again.
19 – Clough-Ballacolla (No change)
Their seniors have reached a county final without raiding this team that have been consistent throughout this season. Face a big game against Rathdowney-Errill in the semi-final on Saturday week.
18 – Trumera (No change)
Weren’t in action last weekend and there wasn’t enough action from the teams around them to merit a move in either direction.
17 – Rathdowney-Errill (No change)
As above. The fact that their seniors were beaten (albeit without gutting their second team) means that all the focus is now on this experienced outfit. Right now they’re the leading contender in the IHC.
16 – Borris-Kilcotton (No change)
Three years in the SHC ‘A’ for Borris-Kilcotton’s second team ended when they lost to Shanahoe Gaels by 22 points in the relegation final. It meant they lost their three games in this grade by an average of 17 and it was the third year running that they were in the relegation decider. That grade was a step too far for them but you’d imagine they’ll be intermediate contenders again next year.
15 – Shanahoe Gaels (No change)
They won by 22 points to save their status and on the back of their competitive showing against The Harps in the earlier round, it suggests that there is something worth sticking with with the Shanahoe-Ballypickas amalgamation. Not that much between them and the two teams above them here but losing 4-16 to 2-7 to Colt Gaels in Round 1 is a black mark against them.
14 – Mountrath (No change)
Relatively competitive against Ballyfin Gaels in their first game, they trounced Borris-Kilcotton in Round 2 but were then well beaten by Rosenallis in the quarter-final. Only for two lucky first-half goals in that game they’d have been beaten by a lot more.
13 – Clonaslee (No change)
Take away their big win against Borris-Kilcotton’s second team in Round 1 and you’re left with a tally of 1-4 against Colt Gaels the next day and a 19-point loss to The Harps. A disappointing year.
12 – The Harps (No change)
A disappointing season and after being fancied to make an immediate return to the senior grade, they will spend the 2018 season outside the top tier again. Of their four games, they lost two and only barely struggled past Shanahoe Gaels. Following relegation last year, they have slipped even further this season.
11 – Rosenallis (No change)
We fancied them to make the final but they were beaten by Colt Gaels and could have no real complaints. A decent season but they were beaten by the two teams above them and have improving to do if they’re to make the step up to senior.
10 – Colt Gaels (Up 2)
Unbeaten in the championship so far, three games and three wins. Chris Murray and Michael Kerr did the bulk of the scoring between them in their slightly surprising win over Rosenallis on Saturday but they are a well balanced and well organised side that are very difficult to beat.
9 – Ballyfin Gaels (No change)
They remain the top team in the SHC ‘A’ and are into their second second successive final in the grade. Put in an excellent first-half display against The Harps and while they struggled a bit against the wind they were deserving winners.
8 – Portlaoise (No change)
Three championship games, three losses – by a combined total of 42 points. It was a tough campaign and a young side – robbed of some of their more experienced players – found the going tough. Could well bounce back straight away next season when they’ll be looking to win their second SHC ‘A’ title in four years.
7 – Castletown (No change)
It was tight for a long time against Portlaoise but they finally did what they had to. Staying senior is a big boost to them and they could rattle a few of the teams above them next year. Have some good young players coming through – and the return of Conor Phelan will be a massive help – but they need a breakthrough win.
6 – Ballinakill Gaels (Down 1)
Have to be credited fully for making full use of the resources they have. Plenty of quality but haven’t been able to eke out a win despite pushing both Borris-Kilcotton and Camross close.
5 – Rathdowney-Errill (Down 2)
Losing Mark Kavanagh was a massive blow and then for Joe Fitzpatrick to pick up an injury playing football put a serious dent in their ambitions. Gave Clough-Ballacolla too much of a head start in the quarter-final and couldn’t pull it back despite a brave effort. A strange on but in 2018 they’ll be looking to end a four-year wait since their last title – by far the longest gap since the two clubs came together in 2005!
4 – Abbeyleix (Down 2)
They produced the performance of the championship to beat Camross in Round 2 but they were utterly disappointing against Clough-Ballacolla last weekend. Got off to a poor start and while they had two decent goal chances in the first half, they never looked like winning.
3 – Clough-Ballacolla (Up 1)
Into the final but outside our Top 2. That will change of course if they beat Camross in the final. Back-to-back wins over Rathdowney-Errill and Abbeyleix and brilliant starts in both of them show how good they can be. Will go into the final as outsiders but not as no-hopers. Some turnaround since their 21-point loss to Borris-Kilcotton in Round 2.
2 – Borris-Kilcotton (Down 1)
They were very disappointing against Camross and while they excelled in their win over Clough-Ballacolla, they won’t reflect fondly on their defence of their first championship title. Are good enough to bounce back in 2018.
1 – Camross (Up 1)
Back up to first place after their win over the reigning champions on Sunday. Not their best display of the year but they’ve still a fine selections of wins behind them this season and will be going for the league and championship double on Sunday week. Will start as favourites and rightly so.
SEE ALSO – All of this week’s Laois GAA fixtures