Saturday 3 December 2016

History beckons at Croke Park as four clubs bid to become first-time All Ireland winners

Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30

Castlebar Mitchels’ Paddy Durcan is pictured alongside Darragh Nelson from Ballyboden and Shane McNaughton, from Ruairí Óg, Cushendall, is pictured alongside Na Piarsaigh’s David Breen
Castlebar Mitchels’ Paddy Durcan is pictured alongside Darragh Nelson from Ballyboden and Shane McNaughton, from Ruairí Óg, Cushendall, is pictured alongside Na Piarsaigh’s David Breen
Na Piarsaigh maestro Shane Dowling. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

History beckons in today's AIB All-Ireland senior club finals in Croke Park, with two new names to be added to the roll of honour.

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All four finalists are bidding to land the titles for the first time and there's an added incentive for Na Piarsaigh, who are attempting to become the first Limerick side to land club hurling's biggest prize.

They take on Ruairi Og, Cushendall (Antrim) at 2.0, followed by the football final between Ballyboden-St Enda's (Dublin) and Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo) at 4.0.

A Cushendall success would see them join Loughgiel Shamrocks as a second Antrim club to win the hurling title but they face a huge test against Na Piarsaigh, who won a very competitive Munster championship before beating Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford) in extra-time in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Limerick clubs, Ballybrown (1990), Patrickswell ('91) and Kilmallock ('93 and '15) all lost finals but the Shane Dowling- powered Na Piarsaigh side are hot favourites to land the Tommy Moore Cup.

The Andy Merrigan Cup will also have a new home, either in Castlebar or on Dublin's Firhouse Road.

Castlebar lost to St Vincent's in the 2014 final but arrive for today's game off an impressive run, during which they beat last year's champions Corofin and six-time All-Ireland winners Crossmaglen Rangers.

Mitchels are attempting to become the third Mayo side to win the title, following in the footsteps of Crossmolina and Ballina.

Ballyboden are bidding to emulate fellow-Dublin clubs, UCD, St Vincent's and Kilmacud Crokes who between them have won the title seven times.

Irish Independent

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