Na Piarsaigh extend unbeaten run as they capture Munster hurling title

Niall Buckley of Na Piarsaigh in action against Peter Hogan of Ballygunner.

Na Piarsaigh 3-15 Ballygunner 2-10

Na Piarsaigh maintained their perfect record in Munster to record a fourth provincial final win in seven years, writes Eoghan Cormican.

As it was two years ago, Na Piarsaigh had the better of the Waterford champions in a game that was desperately slow to get going.

This win takes the Limerick club to second on the provincial roll of honour and brings to 11 the number of games where they’ve gone unbeaten in Munster.

A burst of 1-3 without reply between the 35th and 41st minute had shoved Na Piarsaigh into a 1-9 to 1-7 lead and although Peter Hogan trimmed the deficit to the minimum, Shane O’Neill’s charges answered this with three on the hop.

This four-point advantage held firm until the 58th minute when Hogan registered a fine Ballygunner goal after three Ballygunner forwards had hassled out of possession the Na Piarsaigh defender. Back to the minimum.

Down the field went Na Piarsaigh, David Breen creating a goal chance that was scrambled home by Adrian Breen. 2-13 to 2-9 now read the scoreline. The Caherdavin club pushed on in second-half stoppages, David Breen firing in another goal after Barry Coughlan had been sent off for a second yellow.

In what was a dire first-half, Ballygunner should have been further than 1-4 to 0-6 in front. They had held a 1-4 to 0-3 lead after a fine David O’Sullivan score on 23 minutes, but the last three points of the half fell the way of the Limerick champions as Ronan Lynch, sideline cut, Peter Casey and Adrian Breen breathed some semblance of life into their challenge.

We were treated to just seven scores in the opening 20 minutes, the crucial one being Conor Power’s goal after Na Piarsaigh corner-back Jerome Boylan had slipped when rushing out to possession.

Na Piarsaigh had two goal chances of their own, Ian Kenny blocking Adrian Breen, with Stephen O’Keeffe keeping out Conor Boylan’s follow up.

They play Slaughtneil in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: A Breen (1-5); D Breen (2-0); R Lynch (0-2 sc, 0-1 ’65), P Casey (0-3 each); K Downes (0-2); T Grimes, C Boylan (0-1 each).

Scorers for Ballygunner: P Hogan (1-2); C Power (1-0); B O’Keeffe (0-4, 0-1 free); Pauric Mahony (0-1 free), D O’Sullivan (0-2 each).

Ballygunner: S O’Keeffe; I Kenny, B Coughlan, E Hayden; W Hutchinson, Philip Mahony, S Walsh; H Barnes, S O’Sullivan; D O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony, B O’Keeffe; P Hogan, JJ Hutchinson, C Power.

Subs: T O’Sullivan for Hutchinson (HT); B O’Sullivan for Walsh (54); G Brown for C Boylan (59)

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; P Casey, K Downes, A Breen.

Subs: K Ryan for D Dempsey (43 mins, inj); C Sheahan for David O’Sullivan (63).

Referee: R McGann (Clare).

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