Friday 20 July 2018

Na Piarsaigh see off Kilmallock to secure Limerick hurling crown

Na Piarsaigh 1-22 Kilmallock 2-14 - Limerick SHC final

Na Piarsaigh manager Shane O'Neill celebrates with his wife Michelle, daughter Sáerlaith, aged 9 months, and son Caolan, aged 2-and-a-half
Na Piarsaigh manager Shane O'Neill celebrates with his wife Michelle, daughter Sáerlaith, aged 9 months, and son Caolan, aged 2-and-a-half

Na Piarsaigh held off a late fightback from Kilmallock to secure the Limerick hurling championship title at the Gaelic Grounds.

The Limerick outfit have now won the competition every other year since 2011. Truth be told, Na Piarsaigh could have won by more than the five points have led by 13 in the 52nd minute.

Adrian Breen led superbly in attack, clipping over six points from a variety of angles while Kevin Downes and David Breen provided a strong and resourceful central spine. They could even afford less conspicuous efforts from Peter Casey and Ronan Lynch and still win comfortably. 

The critical periods for the champions came either side of half-time. Kilmallock were hanging in and were just 0-8 to 0-6 in arrears when a protracted melee broke out on the covered stand side involving up to 20 players.

Na Piarsaigh players and supporters celebrate with the cup
Na Piarsaigh players and supporters celebrate with the cup

When order was restored referee Donnacha O'Callaghan produced just one yellow card to Na Piarsaigh captain Cathal King.

But the upshot was a more invigorated Na Piarsaigh, evident in the way midfielder William O'Donoghue took contact to win the next free which Shane Dowling put over for a 0-9 to 0-6 lead.

Dowling contributed five first half frees and was a dominant figure around the middle until he twisted a knee early in the second half and was eventually forced off.

But they took a commanding 0-14 to 0-7 lead in at the break and then built on that with the first three points on the restart to put them out of sight.

Kilmallock got to within seven points before David Dempsey struck for Na Piarsaigh's only goal, courtesy of yet another booming clearance from the impressive Niall Buckley in the 47th minute.

With the margin at 13 points Na Piarsaigh had the finish line in sight and that allowed Kilmallock to make gains with goals from Jake and Graeme Mulcahy. But it was too little too late.

Na Piarsaigh now play the Cork champions in a Munster semi-final in three weeks time.

Scorers - Na Piarsaigh: A Breen 0-6, D Dempsey 1-2; S Dowling 0-5 (5fs), K Downes 0-3, R Lynch 0-2 (1f), T Grimes, A Dempsey, D Breen, P Casey all 0-1 each.

Kilmallock: G Mulcahy 1-4, J Mulcahy 1-1, K O'Donnell 0-3, E Ryan 0-2 (2fs), G O'Mahony, R Hanley, M Houlihan (f), P O'Brien all 0-1 each.

Na Piarsaigh: P Kennedy; J Boylan, M Casey, N Buckley; T Grimes, C King, A Dempsey; S Dowling, W O'Donoghue; R Lynch, D Breen, D Dempsey; P Casey, K Downes, A Breen. Subs: G Brown for Dowling inj (43), C Boylan for D Breen; M Foley for O'Donoghue, J O'Brien for Boylan (62).

Kilmallock: B Hennessy; L Hurley, M O'Loughlin, A Costelloe; D Joy, Philip O'Loughlin, Paddy O'Loughlin; J Mulcahy, K O'Donnell; P O'Brien, R Hanley, G O'Mahony; M Houlihan, E Ryan, G Mulcahy. Subs: O O'Reilly for Ryan (h-t), D Woulfe for Houlihan (53).

Referee: Donnacha O'Callaghan

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