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Carlow Football Quarter Final Previews

LWB Reporter
September 12, 2023

How in the name of God are we at the knockout stages already?!

These Championships have thrown up some real curveballs so far and we've only just finished the group stages.

So it's time to look into the crystal ball once more and try work out what direction these contests might go!

Junior A - Both Friday at Netwatch Cullen Park

Ballon v O'Hanrahan's - 7pm

Ballon got a kick in the arse last Sunday when St Mullins pipped them down in Bahana.

Anyone that knows St Mullins will know that if you're going down there with any sort of complacency then you will inevitably suffer the consequences.

And if you do come away with a win then you'll definitely have left something in Bahana because you don't get out with anything that easy regardless of the code.

Ballon suffered the consequences last weekend and now they face the prospect of more severe punishment against O'Hanrahans.

The Blues stung Tinryland in Round 2 but will have been disappointed in the manner which they lost at home to Leighlinbridge by double digits.

They were missing key players in that game in fairness and with Danny Thompson and Mark Carpenter near the goals they will take some minding.

Ballon lost out in the Semi's last year but they might be under pressure here again a step further back.

Verdict: O'Hanrahans

Leighlinbridge v St Mullins - 8.30pm

The All Blacks got their championship hopes back on track impressively against O'Hanrahans having been below par in the opening two rounds.

St Mullins have got their act together after a poor opening game with Palatine and now seek to make this 3 wins on the spin after beating Old Leighlin and Ballon.

And you get the feeling that this momentum is not going to be easy to stop.

They are fit, they are strong and they are used to winning. They only lost one Senior Hurling Championship game all year and won the Intermediate title.

Leighlinbridge have livewires of their own and I suspect that this game will be played at a decent tempo.

With a fuller focus on football, Leighlin might edge it but it may take extra time.

Verdict: Leighlinbridge

Intermediate - Both Saturday at Netwatch Cullen Park

Ballinabranna v Grange - 3.30pm

Both sides come into this one with a recent victory.

Ballinabranna had the slimmest of margins to spare over Kilbride, while Grange were snug enough in the end seeing off Naomh Eoin.

If Ballinabranna win then people will say that tough battle stood to them. If they lose it will be possibly be used as an excuse.

Equally if Grange win then maybe a suggestion could be made that they are more fresh, but lose and it will be the lack of a battle in the most recent game that some may offer up as an excuse.

But here's reality. This is knockout football. There's no time for excuses, it's ship up or ship out.

Both sides have shown that they can blow hot and cold. They can both mix it with the best. But both can be flaky at times also.

Grange bowed out at this stage last year to Naomh Eoin. It might happen again here.

Verdict: Ballinabranna

Kildavin/Clonegal v St Patricks - 5pm

This game was really enjoyable 12 months ago at a similar stage of the Championship.

On that day it was KC's goals that gave them breathing space.

St Patricks were flying high up to last weekend but had their wings clipped somewhat by Clonmore.

Kildavin/Clonegal on the other hand beat Eire Og who still advanced to the Semis directly.

One thing St Patricks will need to rubber stamp is their own kickouts.

And that's not to suggest that James Tobin is at fault, there are many more intricacies to kickouts in the modern game where one player may forget the call, moves the wrong way, or if the keeper doesn't hit the area of the call that's made.

It's something that Clonmore pressed heavily last time out and got joy from.

Kildavin/Clonegal will mix it any way you want.

They will fancy this, but Tullow might find the improvements needed to progress.

Verdict: St Patricks

Senior - Both Sunday at Netwatch Cullen Park

Old Leighlin v Bagenalstown Gaels - 3pm

This is undoubtedly the toughest game of the weekend to call. And there's none of them easy.

The improvements that Old Leighlin have made are clear for all to see. They are attacking with pace, they have experience and have been competitive in all of their games.

And the very same sentence as the last one could be written about Bagenalstown Gaels.

The only difference is the Town have won two games. But who has gained more?

Old Leighlin winning a game in the group of death while narrowly losing to 2 of the remaining favourites, or Bagenalstown winning 2 games against sides that they possibly might be expecting to beat?

This game will boil down to two things which may seem simplistic. Turnovers and lightening quick counter attacks. Both can and have thrived on it so far.

I suspect this one will be played at a much faster tempo to the game after it and it really could be a mighty spectacle.

Discipline will be huge in this one. Paddy McDonnell's free taking off the ground has been some addition to Bagenalstown this year. It's like he's been doing it forever, yet this is the first year we're seeing it at Senior Championship level and to good effect.

On the other hand Seamus Kinsella has been slotting frees since God was a young fella.

The standard of teams that Old Leighlin have faced so far might just about give them the edge. But extra time may be needed.

Verdict: Old Leighlin

Eire Og v Mount Leinster Rangers - 4.30pm

The Pre Championship favourites have been somewhat underwhelming in living up to that tag so far.

They made hard work of Old Leighlin, while Rathvilly stole a march on them having built up a lead initially and last time out they saw off a Palatine side that simply aren't at it.

It sounds like I'm building a narrative completely against their prospects, but Pre-Championship favourties carry a scrutiny with that tag and thus far the form needed to win it hasn't been displayed to the extent that's needed.

But this is also where it needs to happen and bar the occasional blip (losing here to Rathvilly last year) Eire Og generally crank it up.

MLR were not happy with how things panned out against Bagenalstown.

Not only did they lose by 7 points, but they lost one of their best hopes of progressing further when Chris Nolan was sent off moments before the game ended.

They also lost Willie Hickey who despite being no spring chicken, would certainly be useful coming down the home stretch of a close game.

By the time the game comes around who knows what may happen with appeals but as it stands you would have to feel that this is a game changer.

Rangers have depth in Hurling but I'm not so sure it's there in the big ball code.

Do they still have enough to trouble Eire Og? Yes, absolutely.

However if Eire Og hit form here then MLR could be in trouble regardless of what they fire back at them.

Verdict: Eire Og