Monday 22 January 2018

Na Piarsaigh poised to make Limerick history

Shane Dowling (SPORTSFILE )
Shane Dowling (SPORTSFILE )
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

When the All-Ireland senior club championships were launched in 1971, nobody would have thought that 45 years later, Limerick would still be waiting for their first hurling title.

But that's the case ahead of today's final as Na Piarsaigh bid to succeed where Ballybrown (1990), Patrickswell (1991), Kilmallock (1993-2015) failed.

Conversely, few would have anticipated that Antrim champions would emerge ahead of the Leinster, Munster and Galway giants but Loughgiel Shamrocks achieved that feat on two occasions (1983-2012).

Now, Cushendall are seeking to emulate their Antrim rivals against Na Piarsaigh who, by virtue of being the best from the Leinster-Munster side of the draw, are favourites to land the Tommy Moore Cup.

However, that's to ignore that Cushendall beat Sarsfields, who won a very competitive Galway title, in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Indeed, they were more impressive in their 3-12 to 1-6 win than Na Piarsaigh, who were taken to extra-time by Oulart-The Ballagh.

Neil McManus, Sean McAfee, Karl McKeegan and Paddy McGill scored 3-10 between them for Cushendall, a return which Na Piarsaigh will have noted.

The Limerick champions have accurate snipers too, led by Shane Dowling, Kevin Downes and David Breen so it promises to be quite a shoot-out, with Na Piarsaigh edging their way into the history books as Limerick's first winners.

Na Piarsaigh (Limerick) v Cushendall (Antrim), Croke Park, 2.00pm, Live on TG4

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