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Fixture Details
AIB GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Club Championship 13/14 Semi Final

Mt Leinster Rangers vs Loughgiel Shamrocks

Saturday February 1st, 2014-Celtic Park.
From:-07:00pm

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Leinster hurling manager Joe Dooley has named a 26-man squad for the province’s M Donnelly Inter-provincial semi-final against Ulster on Sunday.

Nine of Anthony Daly’s Leinster title winning Dublin team are in the panel, while there are six players involved from both Kilkenny and Wexford. There are two from Dooley’s native county of Offaly, while Laois, Carlow and Westmeath have one representative each.

Dooley’s selectors with Leinster are John Conran, Humphrey Kelleher and Kilkenny legend DJ Carey.

The two hurling Inter-provincial semi-finals take place this Sunday, February 9. Munster take on Connacht in Ballinasloe at 2pm while Leinster face Ulster in Trim at 2pm.

The Munster squad was named on Wednesday

**

LEINSTER INTER-PRO SQUAD: Gary Maguire, Peter Kelly, Joey Boland, Conal Keaney, Ryan O’Dwyer, Danny Sutcliffe, Paul Ryan, Michael Carton, David O’Callaghan (all Dublin), Paul Murphy, Tommy Walsh, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Murphy, Aidan Fogarty (all Kilkenny), Ciaran Kenny, Lee Chin, Richie Kehoe, Andrew Shore, Jack Guiney, Garrett Sinnott (all Wexford), Joe Bergin, Dan Currams (both Offaly), Willie Hyland (Laois), David English (Carlow), Niall O’Brien (Westmeath)

Ahead of their AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final against Mount Leinster Rangers on Saturday, we take a closer look at Antrim and Ulster champions Loughgiel Shamrocks.

Loughgiel face the Carlow and Leinster champions at Páirc Esler, Newry on Saturday at 3pm.

Who are they?

The modern-day kingpins of Antrim and Ulster hurling. Shamrocks GAA Club is located in the small village of Loughguile on the edge of the Glens of Antrim, eight miles from Ballymoney. The club was founded in 1915 and has a long history of success, including two All-Ireland club titles, which were won in 1983 and 2012. Shamrocks have won 19 county titles in their history and are currently on their greatest ever run of success, winning four county and provincial titles in a row since 2010. They have also won the Ulster Championship on eight occasions, adding titles from the last four instalments to the four provincial successes garnered in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Path to the semi-final?

Loughgiel claimed the county title with a 3-14 to 2-6 victory over Ruairí Óg, Cushendall at Ballycastle back in September, where Benny McCarry was the star of the show, netting 2-1 to eclipse the six points Liam Watson scored.

In the Ulster semi-final, the Antrim representatives had a much tougher time of it and laboured to a 1-16 to 1-9 victory over Down champions Ballygalget at Owenbeg, with McCarry once again doing the damage with his side’s only goal.

It was in the provincial final, against Derry side Slaughtneil, that Loughgiel met their toughest challenge to date. Eight points down after 15 minutes, two Eddie McCloskey goals cut the gap to four at the break, and with the aid of the wind and a third goal from Shay Casey in the second half, PJ O’Mullan’s charges secured a fourth Ulster title in a row.

Players to Watch?

Liam Watson is undoubtedly their star man. A wizard with the stick and small ball, he has consistently been Shamrocks’ best performer over the duration of their current, unprecedented run of success. Incredibly, he scored 3-7 in the 2012 All-Ireland final defeat of Coolderry on a day when he demonstrated his dazzling array of skills on the grandest stage of all. The team’s talisman, Watson is the man for the big occasion, striking an equalising goal from a 21-metre free with the last puck of the game in the semi-final against St Thomas’ last year.

Watson, however, has been somewhat overshadowed by attacking colleague Benny McCarry, who has been on fire throughout the campaign at corner forward. So far, he’s hit 2-1 in the county final, 1-4 in the Ulster semi-final and then a more modest 0-1 in the Ulster final. McCarry is now regarded as one of the finest club hurlers in the province.

Inter-county star Eddie McCloskey (below) is another of Shamrocks’ leading lights. The 25-year-old wing-forward showed great character in the Ulster final, with his timely contribution of 2-2 digging his side out of real hole against Slaughtneil.

At the back, full-back Neil McGarry is a rock, while wing-back Tiernan Coyle is another man in a rich vein of form, while goalkeeper DD Quinn is one of the best in the business.

Strengths?

Still the only Ulster club team to win an All-Ireland title, one of Loughgiel’s greatest strengths is their ability to rise above all the mental and historical barriers facing teams from the province in national competitions. In 1983, they shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the first Ulster side to lift the Tommy Moore Cup; against the odds, they did it again in 2012. With four successive Antrim and Ulster titles and regular appearances in the All-Ireland semi-finals, Loughgiel are now a real force on the national stage.

It’s a perennial bone of contention in Antrim, but part of the reason for that success is their almost singular focus on the club ahead of the inter-county side. Liam Watson is widely regarded as the best forward in the county and yet he isn’t currently involved with Kevin Ryan’s side, and does not expect to be this summer. Loughgiel provide very few players to the Antrim senior side, and while it may not sit well with everyone, it has been a key factor in their emergence as the powerhouse of Ulster club hurling.

On the pitch, their greatest strength is undoubtedly a potent attack. Between them, the full-forward line of Benny McCarry, Liam Watson and Shay Casey are capable of devastating defences. Loughgiel have a panel of 28 with an average age of just 26.

On the Line?

The imposing, bear-like figure of PJ O’Mullan patrols the Shamrocks sideline, and has done so right throughout their incredible run of success since taking over in 2010. However, the 39-year-old has been stricken with ankle problems of late and is currently on crutches and due to undergo surgery in April. A man with Loughgiel hurling coursing through his blood, his father PJ senior, played on the 1983 All-Ireland winning team.

The legendary Jim Nelson, Antrim manager back in the glory days of 1989, was O’Mullan’s assistant but had to step back due to illness last summer. Gavan Duffy, who has plenty of experience with Queen’s, stepped in as coach, although Nelson has returned recently to help out of late. Dominic Casey, Chris O’Connell, Joe McGurk and Niall Gillen complete the backroom team.

Track Record?

Loughgiel’s track record at AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship level is impressive. In the semi-finals of the competition for the fourth year running, they are looking to get back to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, where they have won the Tommy Moore Cup twice in the past – in 2012 and 1983. Beaten in the final four by St Thomas’ after a replay last year, Loughgiel will be determined not to slip up against Carlow champions Mount Leinster Rangers this time.

You’ll be welcome to Ulster, Carlow men (and women and children).

I really hope Mt Leinster put up a good show and do themselves
and you proud for you will need the consolation of a spirited performance
to comfort you on your journey home. For the dream ends here.
Truth is, you have a snowball in Hell’s chance against this Loughgiel side. A side that
were AI champions 2 years ago and were only beaten after a replay by last year’s champions.
Meantime Mt Leinster (Leinster Senior champions) were beaten by the Leinster Intermediate champions
very recently in a challenge game.
In the absence of a monsoon and/or some guy who can walk on water, there’ll be 15 points in it.

1537588
MKR hadn’t half their team out in that game you’re referring to. Hope MLR do it but I feel this is the end of the road.

can’t see Loughgiel getting beaten but this game will be a lot tighter than your man above thinks.17 or 18 points at this time of year on a heavy winter pitch will be enough to win most matches,it’s all on the day and may the best team win…

1537625
turfcutter – let the best team win – could not agree more! Looking forward to the trip and the match – perhaps with a bit of luck we will be looking forward to Croke Park on Paddys Day – if not then, very best wishes to Loughgiel.

1537633
Loughiel lost to an experimental offaly side by 5 at the wknd.

1537659
Maybe Mlr will lose by 15 points as some posters are suggesting but i doubt it.

Oulart were suppose to beat us by 15 points as were Ballyboden.

Loughiel are heavy favourites with the bookies but Mlr are a proud team and i hope
will answer the doubters sunday week.

Im just surprised at the lack of respect the Leinster champions are getting, so we will
just see about the 15 points.

1537696
Fact carlovia. They ll rattle loughiel i think. Great bet at 13/8. They beat two v fancied teams in ballyboden and oulart so they have nothing to fear.

1537864
Most of the talk on here is the Leinster v ulster match which i for one would not write off Mlr but you;d have to fancy Loughiel considering their expieriences in last few yrs.Any thouhts out there on the Nap v Portumna match?Breen in the corner big loss for them whats the thinking around the country on this one.Portumna are favourites but i have a feeling myself for Nap.

1537877
I meant no disrespect to MLR. Beating Ballyboden and OTB was no mean achievement but I’d take Loughgiel to beat either of those teams too. I did say barring a monsoon. Pairc Esler is not known for its drying qualities and is a heavy pitch but I’m certain that Loughgiel will take the sort of chances that OTB squandered in the poor conditions that day.
Breen will be a loss to Na Pairsaigh and might tip it in Portumna’s direction. Portumna certainly have the knowhow. Conditions may play a part in this one too. If it’s half ways dry I’d favour NaP but it’ll be close.

1537923
I totally agree with ‘Carlovia’. Some of the comments on here are really disrespectful to the Carlow & Leinster Champions. Maybe they are to lure Loughgiel into a false sense of security. Coming out of Leinster is a massive achievement. I repeat my post from the Antrim site.

‘I have read a lot of comments on various sites re the MLR/Loughgiel semi final. (Note the spelling for LOUGHGIEL) Some very fair comments and some drivel. In my opinion this is a 50/50 match with two very good teams. MLR are Leinster champions and are in the semi final on merit. If Loughgiel take their county final form to Newry they will have a chance. If they take the form they displayed in the Ulster semi final& final they will have difficulties. Good luck to both teams.’

The contenders for the 2014 AIB All-Ireland senior hurling crown have been whittled down to four.

The provincial action for 2013 concluded yesterday with Mount Leinster Rangers stunning win in the Leinster final. They’ll now go forward to face Ulster champions Loughgiel Shamrocks next February.

While the other semi-final will see Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh and Galway’s Portumna opposing each other.

Portumna are three-time All-Ireland champions having won out in 2006, 2008 and 2009 while Loughgiel Shamrocks have two titles to their name from 1983 and 2012.

Both Na Piarsaigh and Mount Leinster Rangers are bidding to land their first title. But who do you think will now win it out? Let us know.

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