Na Piarsaigh’s incredible season continues on Sunday when they travel to Waterford to face Ballygunner in the AIB Munster club senior Hurling semi final
The Limerick City side claimed their first ever county final when they beat traditional powerhouse Ahane 2-18 to 0-13 to lift the Daly Cup and will be appearing in the provincial stages of the club championship for the first time.
The club have strong local roots with Ard Scoil Ris a typical stomping ground for young players honing their talents, heroes are not forgotten in Caherdavin, as evidenced by the appearances of Damien Quigley in the final few minutes of the final win over Ahane. The club’s first All Star winner had played junior hurling with the team this season but managed to finally to get his hands on an elusive county medal.
Standing in their way of a first ever final is the stern challenge of Munster veterans Ballygunner, the 2001 Munster Champions.
Despite having a relatively young side Ballygunner are by far the most experienced team left in the competition, with the other side of the draw pairing Crusheen of Clare, who only made their Munster club debutlast year with Cork side Carraigtwohill, who like Na Piarsaigh are making their debut at this level, the Waterford Champions will have real aspirations of a Munster crown.
In Hurling standards, Na Piarsaigh are a relatively new club and were only founded in 1968 but the Caherdavin based side have great strides in recent years and the team is mix of experience and youth, with up and coming Limerick stars Kevin Downes, Shane Dowling and David Breen joining the likes of Pat Gleeson and Kieran Birmingham in the side.
Shane Dowling has carried his county form into the club competition, the U21 and senior star putting in a man of the match display, which included a goal, in the win over Ahane. Downes, who also netted in that win is also a player on song and with the likes support coming from the likes of Gleeson, Shane O’Neill and Adrian Breen, Na Piarsaigh are not here to make up the numbers.
Ballygunner come in the semi final, their 12th county final in the back pocket, on the back of a fine win over Tipperary champions Drom-Inch, the 2-15 to 1-13 scoreline made all the more impressive as it was achieved in the surrounding of Semple Stadium. JJ Hutchinson’s early goal put the visitors in control early on, however it was Pauric Mahony who was the star of the show that day, with the teenage star grabbing 9 points, to led his side to victory.
A strong backline anchored by Philip Mahoney and Wayne Hutchinson will be hard to break down while in Shane O’Sullivan, Andy Maloney and Shane Walsh they have excellent ball winners who will ensure quick ball is fed to the speedy Brian O’Sullivan. The jewel in the crown in Mahony and the Limerick men will need to ensure that their discipline is good, as needless free’s will be punished. David O’Sullivan is struggling to be fit after going off injured in the quarter final clash and the player will be giving every opportunity to prove his fitness.
SportsNewsIreland caught with Na Piarsaigh star, Cathal King, ahead of the game with the midfielder keen to push on now that shackles of finally claiming a county title had been lifted “At the start of the year and for the last few years all we have worried about was winning that first county final, now that the weight has been lifted off our shoulders we can look forward to this match.
Obviously coming into this match we’re new to this competition so the lack of pressure should allow us to go out and be ourselves. The lads know that if we can go at them from the start then we can cause an upset and reach the final but will be tough. Ballygunner have some great players, the likes of Mahony (Pauric) and Hutchinson (JJ) are county stars so we’re under no illusion about the task we face”
Prediction: If Na Piarsaigh can play the level they reached against Ahane then they will Ballygunner a tough time however a home team’s experience and local surroundings should be enough to see them edge a tight battle.
Path to the semi final
Limerick County final v Ahane 2-18 to 0-13
Limerick County semi final v Patrickswell 0-20 to 0-15
Limerick County quarter final v Doon 4-14 to 0-17
Munster SH quarter final v Drom-Inch 2-15 to 1-13
Waterford County final v Tullow 1-17 to 0-06
Waterford County semi final v De la Salle 2-10 to 0-11
Waterford County quarter final v Fourmilewater 2-13 to 1-12