In a novel pairing, this Sunday's county senior hurling final sees Loughrea take on newcomers St Thomas at Pearse Stadium (2pm ).
While many neutrals, who may like to see a new name on the county cup, will be rooting for St Thomas, Loughrea are the more experienced, having been in five county finals since 2003.
They won their second title in 2006, beating Portumna by 1-13 to 0-15 - some 65 years after winning their first senior championship, and lost four finals in the past decade, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010.
Loughrea will be keen to change that recent losing record and will enter Sunday's game with all guns blazing against a side that has been installed as the bookies’ favourites. However some pundits believe St Thomas’ lack of big-game experience may count against them this weekend.
Loughrea’s form has been good, and they were very efficient and powerful in their 1-12 to 0-07 victory over Turloughmore in their semi-final.
They threw the ball around confidently and always looked in control from the moment Kenneth Colleran hit a first half goal following good work from the consistently impressive Emmet Mahony.
Loughrea have enjoyed a good year thus-far and they have a nice balance of talented young hurlers like county minor Seán Sweeney and young hurler of the year Johnny Coen, alongside the vastly experienced men like the potent Johnny Maher, Gavin Keary, Johnny O' Loughlin, Vinny Maher and full-back Damien McClearn.
Several Loughrea players, Nigel Murray, Tom Regan, Gavin Keary, Johnny and Vinny Maher, Kenneth Colleran and team captain that year Damien McClearn, all won county medals six years ago. They will believe their efforts over the past few years merit another one.
St Thomas, who are favourites with the bookies for the Tom Callanan Cup, had a narrow one-point victory (1-16 to 1-15 ) over county champions Gort after a replay.
The Kilchreest /Peterswell club had fine displays from All-Star David Burke at midfield and up front Conor Cooney who shot 0-5, 4fs. James Regan, Ritchie Murray and Bernard Burke also caught the eye.
However it was a fabulous goal from county minor Shane Cooney, who was set up by fellow minor Enda Burke, that helped St Thomas to reach this weekend’s decider.
Calling a winner in a county final is never easy, but based on Loughrea’s form in easily seeing off Turloughmore and beating Mullagh the second day out in the quarter finals, it is difficult to look past them.
They have played in the white heat of county finals regularly over the past few years and their four defeats since 2003 came at the hands of Portumna (three finals ) and Clarinbridge in 2010. Both those teams went on to win All-Irelands which highlighted their quality.
The hurt of those defeats, and the knowledge that they will not get too many more chances to add to their win in 2006 should drive them on this weekend. They are 7/2 to win by 1-3 points and that will have some followers in the markets.