THE race for this year’s U-21 hurling titles will get underway on Saturday week with first round games in the A, B and C grades.
Second-round ties are expected to follow a week later with the semi-finals planned for Good Friday, April 2.
Some very exciting first-round games are expected, especially in the A grade. Title holders Sixmilebridge will take on their great rivals Newmarket, who are one of the favourites for the crown, in a tie which should bring a big crowd to Shannon.
Meanwhile, Cratloe and Clonlara, two clubs that have made huge progress in recent times, will clash in a first-round game at Sixmilebridge and followers will be looking with interest to how both will perform.
Inagh-Kilnamona and Clooney-Quin, two teams also with high hopes of being in the shake-up for honours, will clash in another first-round tie while the meeting of Clarecastle and the Broadford-O’Callaghan’s Mills amalgamation should also prove to be a lively affair.
Ballyea will put their U-21B title on the line when they face up to Tubber in the opening round at Ruan. Last year’s beaten finalists Kilmaley will take on O’Callaghan’s Mills, while the Scariff-Ogonnelloe combination will come up against Corofin with another East Clare amalgamation, Tulla-Bodyke, taking on Wolfe Tones.
Newmarket, Éire Óg, Clonlara and Sixmilebridge all have second teams competing for the C title. Newmarket will play Meelick, Éire Óg will take on Clonlara and Sixmilebridge will come up against Feakle-Killanena, while Bodyke and Parteen will meet in another first-round tie.
Because of upcoming third-level exams, clubs are insisting that these championships be completed before the end of April.