Thurles Sarsfields face Ballygunner in Munster Club Hurling Championship

Eamonn Wynne

Reporter:

Eamonn Wynne

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ewynne@nationalist.ie

Michael Cahill

Michael Cahill is a key member of the Thurles Sarsfields defence that will be up against Ballygunner in Sunday's Munster Club Hurling Championship quarter-final t Walsh Park.

Thurles Sarsfields' failure to make a real and lasting impression outside of the county has been one of hurling's great puzzles of recent times.

The club has won seven of the last nine County Senior Hurling Championships, and recently completed the four in-a-row with a comprehensive defeat of Borris-Ileigh in the final.

Yet just one Munster title, won in 2012 - the only time they've been successful in the province - is all they have to show for seven provincial championship campaigns since 2009.

Sarsfields will have another opportunity to put the record straight this season, starting with Sunday's Munster Club quarter-final against newly-crowned Waterford champions Ballygunner, who also won their fourth successive county championship on Sunday.

The match will be played at Walsh Park, with a 2pm throw-in.

This game is a repeat of their meeting in last year's championship, a game that Sarsfields won by a point at Semple Stadium.

Sarsfields had close calls against Upperchurch/Drombane in the Mid Final and Kilruane MacDonaghs in the county quarter-final, a game in which they needed extra-time to advance to the last four.

Yet the manner in which they brushed Borris-Ileigh aside in the county final was impressive.

They scored 1-17 from play in a 1-24 to 0-11 victory and the sharpshooting of Denis Maher, Billy McCarthy, Conor Stakelum, Aidan McCormack and Lar Corbett bordered on exhibition stuff.

Corbett's experience has been a valuable asset to the younger players around him, and he also helped curb Brendan Maher's influence in the county final.

The attack as a unit seems to have benefitted greatly from Eoin Kelly's recruitment to the backroom team this season.

Meanwhile, county captain Padraic Maher and his Tipperary team mates Michael Cahill and Ronan offer them great defensive solidity.

Their well-balanced team and strength in depth makes them a formidable force, backboned as they are by several current and former Tipperary players.

Yet Ballygunner in Walsh Park - a pitch described as "heavy" last weekend- will be a difficult assignment.

They beat De La Salle by 2-18 to 0-16 in Sunday's Waterford final and afterwards former Waterford star John Mullane, who scored a point in his team's defeat, said he thought Ballygunner were good enough to push on and win an All-Ireland.

Philip Mahony was in outstanding form in Ballygunner's half back line while his brother Pauric (the joint captain, along with Shane Walsh) scored nine points, seven from frees.

Conor Power scored both goals, following good work for each by Conor O'Sullivan. Their team, managed by former Waterford star Fergal Hartley, also includes Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe and full back Barry Coughlan.

The winners on Sunday face Clare champions Sixmilebridge in the semi-final on November 5th.