Lethal Lynch points the way as Na Piarsaigh extend superb run
Na Piarsaigh 2-26 Blackrock 0-10
Blackrock have won more Cork county titles than any other side and they have also been the most successful in Munster with five wins, but Na Piarsaigh are the new side who just don't know what it's like to lose in the provincial series.
This was Na Piarsaigh's 10th game in the Munster championship since they emerged on the scene to win the first of their four Limerick titles in 2011, and they have yet to lose one.
A draw against Crusheen in their first final four years ago was their only blip - they won the replay by seven points - but they will face a serious test next Sunday week when they meet a Ballygunner side they ousted two years ago on their way to becoming the first Limerick side to win the All-Ireland club title.
They will go into that match without Shane Dowling, who underwent cartilage surgery last week, and while they didn't miss him yesterday as Ronan Lynch stepped forward with an awesome display, manager Shane O'Neill knows the Waterford champions will be an entirely different proposition to the Cork runners-up.
Lynch struck 0-15, ten of them frees, two from '65's and a sublime sideline but the two frees he missed didn't go unnoticed by O'Neill. "You will always miss Shane Dowling," he said. "Ronan Lynch stepped up fairly well from deal balls. He missed a couple alright which he normally wouldn't but he got some great scores from placed balls.
"We have a replacement, but maybe not a ready replacement as consistently good as Shane. Shane rarely misses at all."
O'Neill knows Ballygunner will be more battle-hardened having come through the route that took Na Piarsaigh to All-Ireland glory and his side will have gleaned little yesterday from their biggest win in the Munster championship.
"I know they have eight or nine weeks on the trot and now they have a break and they are playing again," he said. "But they have had some serious championship matches in the lead up to it.
"I personally think they are a lot better than they were two years ago from what I have seen. It will be a real battle."
Na Piarsaigh, were well on their way to victory when they led by 2-11 to 0-6 at half-time having played against the stiff breeze.
They were quickly out of the blocks and had three points on the board inside four minutes from Lynch, Peter Casey and Adrian Breen. It was the start that Blackrock, beaten by divisional side Imokilly in the Cork final, really needed.
The accuracy of Lynch from frees kept extending the gap and they led by 0-8 to 0-3 after 16 minutes when Peter Casey blasted to the net after being set up by Adrian Breen.
David Breen then added a second goal for Na Pairsaigh with a low shot to the net to lead by 2-8 to 0-4 and there was no way back for the Leesiders.
Two pointed frees from Michael O'Halloran gave Blackrock hope but Na Pairsaigh finished the half strongly with another pointed free from Lynch before Casey took his opening-half haul to 1-3 with two points in stoppage time.
It was all one-way traffic after the restart. Lynch tacked on four more points and Niall Buckley also scored to lead by 2-16 to 0-7 at the end of the third quarter.
Blackrock only managed four points against the breeze, two of them frees from O'Halloran and one apiece from play from Alan O'Callaghan and sub Liam O'Sullivan.
"We needed the start that they had," said Blackrock manager Shane O'Neill, who was without injured centre-back Eoin Smith and wing-forward Shane O'Keeffe, who has moved abroad.
"But we chased the game from the very start. The harder we chased it the further it went away from us."
Na Piarsaigh did not relent and continued to pick off points from all angles with Lynch leading the way as they coasted to their biggest win in the provincial championship, surpassing their 4-14 to 0-8 victory over Sixmilebridge in the 2013 Munster final.
Scorers - Na Piarsaigh: R Lynch 0-15 (10f, 2 '65, 1 sideline); P Casey 1-3; D Breen 1-0; A Breen 0-3; W O'Donoghue, N Buckley, C Boylan, K Downes, K Ryan 0-1 each. Blackrock: M O'Halloran 0-4 (4f); G O'Regan, D Cashman, A O'Callaghan, J O'Sullivan, D O'Farrell, L O'Sullivan 0-1 each.
Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; J Boylan, M Casey, N Buckley; A Dempsey, C King, T Grimes; R Lynch, W O'Donoghue; C Boylan, D Breen, D Dempsey; A Breen, K Downes, P Casey. Subs: G Brown for Dempsey (31), K Ryan for Casey (33-38, 44), M Foley for Grimes (48), J O'Brien for Buckley (55), K Kennedy for Boylan (56).
Blackrock: G Connolly; J Cashman, D Stokes, G Norberg; A Murphy, N Cashman, D Meaney; S Murphy, D O'Farrell; J O'Sullivan, A O'Callaghan, G O'Regan; M O'Halloran, T Deasy, D Cashman. Subs: A Hogan for D Cashman (31), L O'Sullivan for J O'Sullivan (45), C O'Leary for Deasy (49), E O'Farrell for O'Callaghan (56), B Ahern for Norberg (56).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).