Rathdowney to continue two-year cycle

A refreshed Rathdowney-Errill side come into this game on the back of an impressive win over Portlaoise, as they seem to be ominously moving through the gears as they progress through the championship.

A refreshed Rathdowney-Errill side come into this game on the back of an impressive win over Portlaoise, as they seem to be ominously moving through the gears as they progress through the championship.

They seem to have made a habit of winning senior championships in two year intervals, with wins in 2006, 2008 and 2010. So, will the trend continue in 2012? The signs have been positive so far, but they will need to improve for a game against an impressive Harps team.

Michael Lanigan has been pointing them from game to game this year, with his accuracy from placed balls hugely important to their progress in the championship. He scored 0-12 against Camross in the quarter-final, and one of the last things the Rathdowney-Errill defence will be told before they take to the field will be not to give away soft frees within 70 yards of goal.

It is at the other end of field The Harps will have to remain vigilant, however, as it was a defensive meltdown in the semi-finals last year that ultimately cost them. Brian Galvin moved back to full-back in the win over Camross and could retain his place there, with Fintan Deegan seeming to have settled what had been a problem position for them at centre-back. Up front, they are well-stocked with scoring prowess too, but they have to get all of those facets of their team working together at the same time if they are to make a first final since 1998.

Rathdowney-Errill, meanwhile, have brought through some younger players to freshen up their senior squad over the last year or two, and they have bedded in well this season. Ross King is now a leading light in attack, Patrick Purcell has become a threat`at wing-forward, Brendan Ryan has slotted into midfield, and they can call on the likes of Jaosn Phelan and Ross King from the line too.

It could be the strength in reserve that makes the difference as well. Both teams starting fifteens should be evenly matched, but Rathdowney-Errill look to be that bit stronger on the bench, and that could swing the game in their favour here.

Verdict: Rathdowney-Errill