If you're a hurling fan, this weekend is the best weekend of the year 7 months ago

If you're a hurling fan, this weekend is the best weekend of the year

Hoho hurling...

And don't you worry, we're not talking about the Fenway Classic.

Far away from the bright lights of Boston are Semple Stadium, the Gaelic Grounds and Parnell Park but the glitz and glamour is always beaten by the substance, the significance, the bloodline and the bedrock of the GAA community.

That's club GAA and the height of it is in those grounds from Tipperary to Dublin this weekend.

You don't choose your club, your club chooses you and for the rest of your life, you'll be looking for ways to make it up to the club that made you.

Only the best clubs and the most tight-knit, devoted GAA communities are still going on their 2018 journey now as the club championships tip-toe their way towards provincial finals and All-Ireland semi-finals.

We're only days away from the weekend of the hurling year with ten hurling clubs competing in either county finals, provincial semis or provincial finals in a few day's time.

It's an absolute feast for hurling folk on Sunday and here's the five games on the menu.

Leinster senior club semi-finals

Naomh Eanna (Wexford) v Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny), Innovate Wexford Park, 1.30.

Gorey are in bonus territory and they'll be buoyed by the lack of pressure and the home venue here. Conor McDonald, Padraig Doyle, Cathal Dunbar, Jack Cullen and Eoin Conroy have been in supreme form for the north Wexford outfit and they'll put it up to the Kilkenny champs this weekend.


Still, Ballyhale are one of Ireland's most successful ever hurling clubs and this is a brilliant Ballyhale team. TJ is lording it, Michael Fennelly is controlling things and youngsters Cody, Shefflin and Mullin are announcing themselves.

They should win here, but after a fair test.

Verdict: Ballyhale Shamrocks by three

Ballyboden St Endas (Dublin) v Coolderry (Offaly), Parnell Park, 2.00.

The absence of the suspended Mark Bergin will be a fair blow for the Offaly champs but they still have a lethal forward line. Kevin Connolly is a skilful and dainty operator while Brian Carroll is still class.

Boden showed their character to win the Dublin final in a replay, but they're there to be got at and the 2011 provincial champs might have the experience and the nous to exploit them

Verdict: Coolderry by two.

Munster club SHC final

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) v Ballygunner (Waterford), Semple Stadium, 2.00 - Live on TG4.

Unquestionably now, the two best clubs in Munster. It's the same final for a second year in a row and both clubs have their reasons to be desperate for this one.

Ballygunner haven't won Munster since 2001 despite winning the last five Déise titles. That's bound to hurt. Meanwhile, Na Piarsaigh lost last year's All-Ireland final and they look hell-bent on writing that wrong.

This will be a ding-dong battle, just like it was last year, but Na Piarsaigh have too much class.

Verdict: Na Piarsaigh after extra-time.

Galway SHC final

Liam Mellows v St Thomas, Pearse Stadium, 2.oo

Mellows showed this year that they're sick of everybody writing off last year's county title win as a fluke. They've put the doubters in their place, making it all the way back to the decider again, but Thomas' are a class act and if they click, they won't be stopped.

Verdict: St Thomas' by four

Munster club IHC final

Charleville (Cork) v Feakle (Clare), Gaelic Grounds, 1.30

Charleville are a club on a soaring trajectory in recent times, having come all the way up from junior to secure their senior status for next year in Cork. Ben O'Connor is their manager and Darragh Fitzgibbon is their main man.

Feakle are a decent outfit too, and the battle of Fitzgibbon in midfield with the free-scoring Shane McGrath promises to be a belter, but Charleville should just shade it.

Verdict: Charleville by one.

And then, only then, you've the Fenway Classic at 6.00 on Sunday evening to wind down with.