Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 Leinster Championship Semi-Final
Carlow v Kilkenny
Wednesday, 24th June, Netwatch Cullen Park, 7.30pm
This coming Wednesday night, the U-21 hurlers from Carlow will welcome their near neighbours, Kilkenny, to Netwatch Cullen Park as they hope to produce, what would be to many, a huge shock in the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 Leinster Championship. Throw in for the match is at 7.30pm.
With a place in the Leinster Final up for stakes, Carlow will be motivated by the fact that they could become the first team from the county to compete in a provincial final at U-21 level, while a win for Kilkenny will put them back in a final they last competed for in 2013.
Kilkenny who possess so much tradition in hurling, and have produced some of the games greats, will go into this encounter as strong favourites. They head into Wednesday night’s match on the back of a dramatic victory over Dublin in their first round encounter. A fortuitous goal from Mark Mansfield late in that game handed the Cats a two point win that looked improbable for long stages.
Mansfield was instrumental in that game notching up a total of 1-2 from midfield, and was aided in the scoring duties by Bord Gáis Energy U-21 Ambassador, Conor Martin who accounted for 0-5. Strong in attack, Kilkenny have standout players in defence with Ciaran Wallace at full back and wing back Jason Cleere to call upon.
With a number of Brian Ryan’s U-21 Kilkenny panel involved in the senior set up, they have plenty experience of what it takes to win championship games.
Carlow themselves had an excellent win in their opening round game against Laois. A game that they also went into as underdogs, the Barrowsiders claimed a 2-15 to 4-7 victory over their midland rivals in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise. This victory will give them confidence as they try to take down the kingpins of Leinster hurling.
Young guns Chris Nolan and Kevin McDonald really shone when introduced the last outing against Laois and they pushed the Barrowsiders on to record a two point victory. They will once again need big performances from midfielder Diarmuid Byrne and Captain Marty Kavanagh in attack if they are to come away with a famous victory. Manager John Nevin’s experience of the big day should stand his charges in good stead and a big crowd is expected in Netwatch Cullen Park tomorrow night for what we all hope will be an epic occasion.