Charlie Mitchell of Kilcormac-Killoughey, who play Shinrone in the Offaly SHC this Sunday (Banagher, 12.00).

K/K clash will tell a lot about Shinrone prospects

Without meaning to be dismissive of the other six teams, two of the five SHC fixtures this weekend absolutely leap off the page in terms of their significance.

Facing Kilcormac-Killoughey in Banagher tomorrow (Saturday, throw-in 12.00) will represent a huge test of Shinrone’s credentials, which seem more robust than ever based on the action we’ve seen so far.

They may not have picked up the win they wanted last time out against Coolderry, but there was still a lot to like about their style of play, which seemed like a good marriage of simplicity and directness, with a healthy measure of thought and purpose.

If they can bring that to bear against Kilcormac-Killoughey, who ran up a big total in round one against Seir Kieran but who were unconvincing at times against Belmont, then that could be the psychological boost they need going into knockout hurling, where they have underperformed spectacularly over the last decade and more.

Likewise, Coolderry will learn a lot more about how good they actually are when they take on St Rynagh’s on Sunday afternoon in St Brendan’s Park (3.30pm).

This has the makings of a genuinely intriguing fixture, where the county champions are sure to provide a thorough test of Coolderry and their ability to hurl for an hour and more at a high tempo, while still keeping a relatively low error count – as has been one of their trump cards so far. While Coolderry have scored quite well, they’ve been particularly impressive defensively.

St Rynagh’s will stretch them wide, they will happily run the ball through the lines if Coolderry offer that option, and they won’t just feed the Coolderry half-back line with aimless restarts.

The men in green are effectively moving up from showing well in handicap company to suddenly entering a Grade One race, so it will be interesting to see how they cope with the step-up.

Of the other games, Birr can continue their quietly impressive season with a win over Belmont, Ballinamere should be too strong for Drumcullen, and in a closely contested local derby, there’s probably a little bit more to like about Kinnitty than a Seir Kieran side that looks very raw in spots.

- Kevin Egan