Antrim Intermediate Hurling Championship
Naomh Éanna vs Glen Rovers, Armoy
Date: Sunday July 30
Throw In: 3pm
Referee: Brendan Toland (Lámh Dhearg)
By Brendan McTaggart
The Intermediate Championship gets underway this weekend in Randalstown as Glen Rovers Armoy and Naomh Éanna face off in the preliminary round.
Last year St Enda’s were the surprise package of the Intermediate Championship. The Glengormley based side reached the Final and pushed Cloughmills all the way. A late Owen Kinney goal for the Biddies proving to be the decisive score but it was in their previous rounds where they turned a few heads, most notably against Glenariffe in the last four. Coming into the match as underdogs, the Hightown Road side had two points to spare after extra time with Cormac Jennings putting in a man of the match performance and 14 points from midfield.
The Rovers are a side capable of beating anyone on any given day and it’s only three short years ago when they pushed Rossa all the way in the Intermediate Final before the Shaws Road side went onto claim the All-Ireland in February 2015. Two quarter-final defeats since have been a disappointment for the Armoy men, narrow defeats against Gort na Mona in 2015 and Glenariffe in 2016 will mean they will be hungry for success in 2017.
Both teams have had contrasting fortunes in their respective league campaigns. Naomh Éanna are pushing for promotion from Division 3/4 while Armoy are involved in a relegation battle at the bottom of Division Two which would suggest there isn’t much between these sides. Armoy’s fate in Division Two could well rest on a meeting with Carey Faughs on August 9 but there are is still a lot of hurling to be done before either club will know their fate for 2018.
Naomh Éanna will be looking towards Joe Maskey and Cormac Jennings again for leadership while expecting big games from Ruairi Diamond and John McGoldrick. Armoy meanwhile have ‘Rocky’ Dillon and Johnny McErlain as their big game players but the return of Owen Kinney to the Glen Rovers fold could be the difference. The Rovers full forward has bagged 8-10 in his last two league games against St Gall’s and Clooney Gaels and with the right service will always do damage on the edge of the square.
Playing in Division Two and despite being involved in a relegation battle, Armoy will start the preliminary tie as favourites. Playing at a higher level of hurling throughout the year will stand them in good stead for this Championship fixture and I give them the edge to reach the quarter-final where a match-up with last year’s Junior Champions Lámh Dhearg awaits for a place in the semi-final but don’t be surprised if Naomh Éanna prove me wrong!