Club: Bagenalstown Gaels
Captain: To be announced later
Manager: Willie Doyle is manager while Gavin Nolan has been appointed as coach.
Key Players: Their challenge will be back-boned by the experience of Alan Corcoran, Craig Doyle, David Corcoran, David Miley and Murt Cummins.
If they were a soccer team across the water? Everton are well established and highly regarded but like senior hurling in Bagenalstown their ambitions don’t match their actual achievements.
Verdict: Whether it be the previously named Erins Own or the newly formed Bagenalstown Gaels they have struggled to get their hands on adult silverware. That is unlikely to change this year. The newly formed club could still make it to the senior semi-finals at their first attempt.
Captain: David English
Manager: Tommy Comerford, Leonard Freeman and Tommy Dowling form the management team.
Key Players: Expect a big influence from several sets of brothers including Ciaran and Sean Whelan, Jamie, Dion and Craig Wall as well as Daryl Roberts, Sean Murphy and Padraig Hynes.
If they were a soccer team across the water? Is it a compliment to be compared to Tottenham? Probably not. The London club flatter to deceive, win the odd cup, but struggle to make the breakthrough on a consistent basis. Ballinkillen almost made it to the final last season but were crucially edged out by St Mullins. That time Ballinkillen must have felt just like Spurs who, potentially, left the Champions League final behind them when ousted by Liverpool.
Verdict: It will be a battle royal between themselves, Naomh Eoin and Bagenalstown Gaels for a semi-final spot. They should make it.
Club: Mount Leinster Rangers
Captain: To be announced
Manager: Conor Phelan
Key Players: So far they can report a clean bill of health. Paul Coady is after working hard to return from injury and all is well with the rest of the panel.
If they were a soccer team across the water? After all they have achieved in recent years the Borris club are a bit like Manchester United and are the team everyone loves to beat.
Verdict: Going for a three-in-a-row they were cruelly touched off in the final last year by St Mullins. That will focus them hugely and they will be hard to stop this year. Must be favourites to regain the title
Club: Naomh Eoin
Captain: Ross Smithers
Manager: Colin Keeling
Key Players: They will look to Brian Tracey, John Michael Nolan, Kevin Foley, Tommy Nolan, Conor Foley and Declan O’Brien for leadership.
If they were a soccer team across the water? Arsenal haven’t won a Premiership title since the 2003-4 season. Naomh Eoin’s last senior win came in 2005.
Verdict: When the Myshall club were in their prime in the 70s, 80s and 90s they had a fearsome reputation. If you were at one end of the tunnel at Dr Cullen Park and you heard them approaching you got out of the way quickly. They had a reputation for going through those that stood in their way. The talent is still there but that tough edge is gone out of the club and with it their ability to strike fear into opposing teams. Even a semi-final spot would be an achievement but Bagenalstown Gaels and Ballinkillen will be looking to compound their misery and could do so.
Club: St Mullins
Captain: To be appointed
Manager: Niall O’Donnell
Key Players: The ability of the Kavanagh brothers, Jack, Chris and Marty alongside Seamus Murphy, John Doran, James Doyle and Seamus Murphy is unparalleled but Jason O’Neill, Oisin Boland and Patrick Boland were hugely influential last season. It will be interesting to see how Paudie Kehoe settles back after working overseas for a number of years.
If they were a soccer team across the water? It has to be Liverpool. Neither side dominate all the time but historically and at the present moment they are the king-pins in their respective competitions. They are right up there to be taken on and beaten if the opposition are good enough to do so.
Verdict: Their run to a Leinster senior hurling club final was wonderfully impressive but they would be first to admit they won a tight Carlow championship. They will be up for it again but could find old rivals, Mount Leinster Rangers, the rock which could unseat them.