Monday 21 October 2019

Lynch intervention lifts the 'Well back on top in Limerick

Patrickswell 1-17 Na Piarsaigh 0-15

Peter Casey of Na Piarsaigh tries to gather possession ahead of Patrickswell’s Diarmuid Byrnes (left) and Mark Carmody (No 5) during yesterday’s Limerick SHC final. Photo: Sportsfile
Peter Casey of Na Piarsaigh tries to gather possession ahead of Patrickswell’s Diarmuid Byrnes (left) and Mark Carmody (No 5) during yesterday’s Limerick SHC final. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

When Diarmaid Byrnes landed a huge score from around 85 metres to put Patrickswell in front again in the 49th minute, it elicited a huge cheer from their support in the Gaelic Grounds for this Limerick SHC final, not for the fact that they were in the lead again but for the delivery, at last, of an elusive score.

For the opening 19 minutes of the second half they had failed to register one. Add on the three or so minutes before half-time after Jason Kelleher had delivered their ninth point and that was over 22 minutes without a score. Not the kind of form that would win a team any county title, let alone one where previous All-Ireland champions Na Piarsaigh were lurking.

But Na Piarsaigh, beaten Munster finalists last year, were so off-colour themselves that they couldn't properly capitalise on the 'Well's attacking malaise.

After trailing by 1-9 to 0-6 at the break, they got parity by the 47th minute and looked good to go and win their first ever three-in-a-row without really showing their best form.

But Byrnes' point unlocked something in Patrickswell again and from there Cian Lynch took over, posting two points and making a number of crucial interventions to ensure that the famed club sits proudly at the top of the roll of honour in the county with 20 titles, one more now than Ahane.

His 56th- and 57th-minute points, interspersed by an Adrian Breen effort at the other end, prevented Na Piarsaigh from coming again.

In all, Patrickswell had 15 wides and dropped a further two shots short at critical times but they were still full value for this win, dominating the first half entirely when they really should have been out of sight.

Byrnes with six (four from frees) and Aaron Gillane with four (one from a free) were the biggest wide culprits and one Gillane effort in particular in the second half that went wide after great approach work, the team's sixth since the break, drew pronounced groans from the support as panic appeared to set in.

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Gillane was returning after sustaining a broken jaw in the group match against Kilmallock on the weekend of the drawn All-Ireland final five weeks earlier.

"I was very pleased for Aaron," acknowledged manager Ciarán Carey. "He got another tip in training about a fortnight ago but he was adamant he wanted to play so we were kind of holding him back for the last minute.

"Inevitably, we were dictated by medical advice so once they gave the green light the ball was in Aaron's court, which was to play. So we gave him that time and space to be ready. You could see he was a bit ring-rusty because he could have come away with about four or five points today from play but he still played a huge part in it," said Carey.

For his part, Gillane felt he was taking a risk but one he was prepared to make.

All around the park Patrickswell just had too much. Their other midfielder Josh Considine was very lively, firing home a 14th-minute goal after Kelleher had put him in and making most of the advantage played by referee John O'Halloran in the build-up.

O'Halloran had a big decision to make with Kevin Downes at the other end towards the close of the first half when the Na Piarsaigh forward caught Patrickswell's Tom Nolan around the head with his hurl, an offence that would probably have earned him a red card at inter-county level. But here a yellow was deemed sufficient.

Overall, the quality left a lot to be desired and even though two of the finest teams in the province, not just the county, were in opposition, it was quite lacklustre.

Patrickswell were never behind from the first minute when Lynch skipped through two tackles to pop the opening score. Considine had put them two clear, 0-5 to 0-3, just before his goal and there were strong contributions from centre-forward Kevin O'Brien and Kelleher.

Mike Casey was solid at full-back for Na Piarsaigh, who are now managed by the former Tipperary manager Mick Ryan, but they were a pale shadow of the team they had been over the previous two seasons and indeed for much of a decade in which they have won six county titles.

Peter Casey led their line superbly with seven points, one from a late free after Willian Henn had been replaced, and looked unplayable at times. But they missed Shane Dowling, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

Patrickswell asserted themselves in the closing stages and Byrnes claimed two magnificent catches, one which earned him a free that he put over at the very end in impressive style.

Going unbeaten in this year's championship - they beat Na Piarsaigh in an earlier round - was Carey's greatest source of pride afterwards.

"The sweet thing for me really was it was our seventh match this year, weren't beaten once and overturned Doon twice, beat Na Piarsaigh twice. So I think we won the championship in style," he said.

Carey said avenging a 2015 defeat to the city side was not part of their motivation. "All I wanted really from my guys today was to show up, show a bit of honesty, show a bit of genuineness and the scoreboard would reflect that.

"Thankfully, they did that for most of the game. Possibly in the first 15 minutes of the second half, just probably slightly tired when we should have been a lot more economical. Even going in at half-time, I think six points probably flattered Na Piarsaigh, I'd say we could have been up eight or nine."

Patrickswell now play the winners of the meeting between the Clare and Waterford champions in a Munster semi-final but for now the joy of dethroning the Na Piarsaigh juggernaut in Limerick is very satisfying.

Scorers - Patrickswell: A Gillane 0-6 (6f); J Considine 1-2; C Lynch 0-3; D Byrnes (1f), J Kelleher 0-2 each; A Carroll, T O'Brien 0-1 each. Na Piarsaigh: P Casey 0-7 (1f), W Henn 0-3 (3f); A Breen 0-2; R Lynch, D Dempsey, A Dempsey 0-1 each.
Patrickswell - B Murray; S O'Brien, N Foley, T Nolan; P Maher, D Byrnes, M Carmody; J Considine, C Lynch; J Kelleher, K O'Brien, A Carroll; A Gillane, J Gillane, T O'Brien. Subs: P O'Brien for Carroll (h-t), J Flynn for P O'Brien (55), C Carroll for J Gillane (57).
Na Piarsaigh - P Kennedy; K Kennedy, M Casey, N Buckley; M Foley, R Lynch, T Grimes; C Houlihan, W O'Donoghue; C Houlihan, W O'Donoghue; C Boylan, P Casey, D Dempsey; W Henn, K Downes, A Breen. Subs: A Dempsey for Houlihan (30), K Ryan for Henn (55).
Ref - J O'Halloran (Bruree)

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