St Mullins v Ballinkillen - Wednesday 28th of June at 7:30pm in Netwatch Cullen Park
There have been some tasty games – in particular 2 semi finals in recent years, between these sides and the group games have been a mix depending on personnel available - last years win for Ballinkillen against the Saints gave them momentum to power into the semi final.
This year though you have to imagine that roles will be reversed given the absence of the key Ballinkillen player Ciaran Whelan, Padraig Hynes and Sean Murphy through injury/suspension.
This potential half forward line absences will test the Ballinkillen panels depth and ultimately might leave them short on the scoring front.
St Mullins look to have almost everyone fit and well and they will look to get off the mark early with a win. The heart wants one thing (its hard not to be biased!) but I cant see past a win for the county champions
Prediction – St Mullins by 5
Bagenalstown Gaels v Naomh Brid - Friday 30th of June at 7.30pm in the Training Centre Fenagh.
Probably a match that both teams will fancy getting something from – in a strange way! The McGrath Park men will be hoping to make a statement of intent and be well fancied here but Naomh Brid will point to a rousing performance in last years group game and draw on that for motivation here.
A 5pt victory was harsh on the men in maroon that day with the concession of a late goal putting a gloss on the scoreboard.
If both camps are injury free, you would expect it to be a good battle with fresh legs on both sides. If the tempo is high, possibly a stronger bench might prove the key and the edge here is to Bagenalstown.
Prediction – Bagenalstown Gaels by 5
MLR v Naomh Eoin - Friday 30th of June at 7.30pm in Netwatch Cullen Park
All indicators here would point to a win for MLR and it is hard to see past it.
The fixture though takes on a greater importance for Naomh Eoin for me in terms of performance, set up and mind set – a longer term view.
They will surely be targeting getting 2 wins elsewhere other than this fixture so while they will no doubt be gung ho for this match, they will have a free shot here in my eyes.
MLR will be eyeing a return challenge for major honours and it will be interesting to see what emerging talent is trusted with the jersey in round 1.
They normally fire well in their group groups and their power in that middle 3rd will be the launch pad for success here.
Prediction – MLR by 7