Midlands Park Hotel Minor Hurling Championship Final Abbeyleix v The Harps
In LOETB Centre of Exellence at 7.30pm
Tonight sees the conclusion of the minor hurling championship and it is a repeat of last year’s final.
Abbeyleix no longer have the Ballinakill contingent so they have lost their Gaels this year but they still made it back to the final where they face reigning champions The Harps.
This will be The Harps third straight final at this grade. After losing to Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath in 2018, they claimed glory last year against tonight’s opponents.
This particular age grade has been incredibly competitive over the years – so much so that the two teams who contested the U-15 final in 2018, didn’t even make the semi finals this year.
Borris-Kilcotton defeated Portlaoise in the U-15 final back then but both were eliminated in the group stages this year.
A year earlier, in 2017, Rosenallis won the feile – defeating The Harps in the decider.
With Borris-Kilcotton subsequently winning the U-14 championship in 2017 by getting the better of Clough-Ballacolla in the final after extra time.
So in all of those years, Abbeyleix failed to make a final while The Harps’ only appearance in one was the Feile. Neither have won silverware – but that will change tonight.
Abbeyleix were in Group A and began with wins over Castletown and Portlaoise before drawing with Rosenallis.
They then subsequently drew with Clough-Ballacolla but that was enough for second spot in the group behind Rosenallis.
Group B of the hurling championship, from which The Harps emerged, was very complicated to work out.
Rathdowney-Errill won all of their games and topped the group but three teams below them finished level on four points each – The Harps, Camross and Borris-Kilcotton.
The Harps lost to Borris-Kilcotton in Round 1 but recovered to dish out a crucially big beating to Camross – 4-13 to 1-11.
They then hammered Na Fianna before losing by a point in their final game to Rathdowney-Errill.
Other results meant that they, Camross and Borris-Kilcotton were all tied on four points. Na Fianna gave a walkover to Camross in their final game so, results involving Na Fianna were expunged leaving the points difference of the three other teams from the games between each other and the ones with Rathdowney-Errill to be used to separate them.
That left The Harps second on +8, Borris-Kilcotton third on -5 and Camross fourth on -13.
So that meant both The Harps and Abbeyleix went into their semi finals as distinct underdogs.
But the excellent Colin Byrne notched as hat-trick as Abbeyleix stunned Rathdowney-Errill to knock them out.
A look at the two teams shows a number of players on both sides who played in this 12 months ago.
Adam Walsh, Stephen Murphy, Daniel Dooley, Cathal Murphy, Cody Comerford, Dylan Foyle and Jim O’Connor all played for The Harps last year and are set to be involved again.
While for Abbeyleix, Lawson Obular, Davin McEvoy, Shaun Fitzpatrick and Sam Quinn were all there last year.
Obular, McEvoy, Fitzpatrick, Quinn, Conor McWey, Matthew Gibney, Alan McWey and Killian Byrne all played in the minor football win last week and will be hoping to do the double.
It is set to be a classic and is extremely difficult to call but maybe Abbeyleix, buoyed by that football win, will taste glory again.