The UPMC SHC takes centre stage this weekend and following the Preliminary round two weeks ago, the opening round proper gets under way on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with all eight teams in action.
The two groups are made up of A (winner's section), Naas, Ardclough, Celbridge and Confey while the B group (losers group) sees Coill Dubh, Clane, Leixlip and Éire Óg Corrachoill.
The weekend action begins on Friday when in Group A, county champions Naas, looking for their third consecutive title travel to Celbridge to take on Confey, in a game that throws-in at 8 pm.
Naas had their expected comfortable win over Leixlip in the Preliminary Round (5-15 to 1-10) while Confey defeated Clane (2-12 to 0-14).
Naas were in full charge against Leixlip, led by 2-7 to 0-6 with goals from Shane Ryan and Brian Byrne.
The second half got even worse for Leixlip as Naas piled on the pressure adding 3-8 to Leixlip's 1-3.
Confey, having lost last season's delayed championship final a week earlier, needed a win badly and they duly achieved that and while they was just four points separating the sides with Pauric Keegan in good form scoring six points and county man, David Slattery hitting 1-1, although the latter did come off injured near the end.
Hard to see anything but another Naas win on Friday.
Moving on to Saturday and there are two games down for decision, the opening one, at Conneff Park, Clane has an early throw-in, 1.30, where Ardclough take on Celbridge, is what could be the game of the weekend.
Ardclough got the better of Éire Óg Corrachoill in a cracking contest in the Preliminary Round, leading by two at the break, 0-12 to 0-10, they went on to hit all of 25 points and while EECC hit them with two goals from Liam Dempsey who only made an appearance after 35 minutes, when he did he certainly made his presence felt.
Ardclough though, held out for an impressive and a real confidence booster with Tony Spain rolling back the years, ably assisted by the Fitzgerald boys, along with David Collins, Kevin Sexton and Sean Buggy.
Celbridge meanwhile had too much power for Coill Dubh in their opening game and in the end had no less than 16 points to spare.
Gerry Keegan was in top form hitting 1-9 while Niall O'Reagan helped himself to 2-3 while Conor Treacy got 2-1.
It was more than a decent display from the Celbridge lads and with Keegan slowly getting back to his best form will put it up to neighbours Ardclough in this one.
This one could go either way with the odds slightly favouring Celbridge.
The second game on Saturday moves back to St Conleth's Park with a 6 pm throw-in between Éire Óg Corrachoill and Coill Dubh in Group B.
Although the Caragh-Prosperous boys lost to Ardclough, they did hit a very healthy 2-16 in that game, a score line that would be good enough to win most games.
Coill Dubh and Eire Og met in a League semi final since the preliminary round of the championship with Coill Dubh coming out on top at home.
There could be a bit of skin and hair flying in this one as the near neighbours battle it out; having Liam Dempsey starting would be a great boost for Eire Og lads and while Coill Dubh did hurl very well in that league win, if Dempsey is fit it could make the difference in a game that have no doubt there will be no questions lost with Éire Óg Corrachoill getting the nod.
Sunday sees the final game in the four game weekend programme when St Conleth's Park is the venue for the Leixlip v Clane clash in Group B.
Clane were very disappointed to lose to Confey in there opening game while Leixlip took that bit of a hiding from Naas.
Neither of these sides would be expected to be in contention at the business end of this season's championship but nevertheless there will be some decent hurlers involved.
Jack Travers, Cathal Derivan, John Doran Darragh Melville will be doing their utmost for Leixlip while Clane will be looking to Caolan Smith, Sean Christanseen, Mark Doyle and Paddy McKenna to get them over the line.
The vote goes to Clane to get their championship off to a win in the group stages.
UPMC SHC fixtures:
Friday August 27, at Celbridge, Group A, Naas v Confey, 8 pm.
Saturday August 28, at Conneff Park, Clane, Group A, Ardclough v Celbridge 1.30; at St Conleth's Park, Group B, Éire Óg Corrachoill v Coill Dubh, 6 pm.
Sunday, August 29, at St Conleth's Park, Group B, Leixlip v Clane, 2 pm.
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